Category: Blow back


 

Pro-Russian gunmen seize key buildings in eastern Ukraine

Armed pro-Russian activists in Slavyansk

Armed pro-Russian activists guard a police station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk. Photograph: Anatoliy Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images

Gunmen have seized a police station and other government buildings in Ukraine‘s eastern industrial heartland amid a tense deadlock in the country’s east, where armed pro-Russian protesters have barricaded themselves inside government buildings and demanded independence from Kiev.

Ukraine’s interior minister, Arsen Avakov, said another group of gunmen tried to storm the Donetsk regional prosecutor’s office but was repelled.

The early morning raid on the police station happened in Slavyansk, a town about 35 miles north of the regional capital, Donetsk. The men collected weapons and distributed them to their supporters. A second group later took the headquarters of the state security service.

“Armed men in camouflage fatigues have taken the police station in Slavyansk,” Avakov wrote on his Facebook page. “Here, our response will be very severe.”

A local police official told Kiev’s private Channel 5 television that the raid was staged by six men who had fired several shots into the air before storming the station. It was not immediately clear how the local police responded or whether the gunmen had taken any hostages.

 

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Voice of America

Ukraine Accuses Russia of ‘Aggression’

Henry Ridgwell

— Ukraine says Saturday’s attacks by pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine are “an act of external aggression” by Russia, and security officials are preparing to implement “an operational response plan.”

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov’s evaluation appeared on Facebook Saturday, shortly after armed militants with Russian weapons seized more government buildings in the Russian-speaking east, including police headquarters in Donetsk and Kramatorsk.

Witnesses, including western journalists, say the Kramatorsk facility was captured after a firefight, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Armed men stand in front of police headquarters in Slaviansk, April 12, 2014.Armed men stand in front of police headquarters in Slaviansk, April 12, 2014.

The takeover of police facilities in Donetsk prompted the city’s police chief to resign, while elsewhere, Western news accounts late Saturday said militants controlled the eastern city of Sloviansk.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any role in Ukraine’s unrest, which erupted in full two months ago, when anti-Russian protesters in Kyiv forced then-president Viktor Yanukovych to flee the country.

US reaction

Meanwhile, the United States has called on Russia to “cease all efforts” to destabilize Ukraine.  A White House National Security Council spokeswoman said Saturday the United States is concerned that Russian separatists — with apparent support from Moscow — are “inciting violence and sabotage” against the Ukrainian state.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by telephone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the State Department said.

“During the call Kerry expressed strong concern that attacks today by armed militants in eastern Ukraine were orchestrated and synchronized, similar to previous attacks in eastern Ukraine and Crimea,” said a senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Militants were equipped with specialized Russian weapons and the same uniforms as those worn by the Russian forces that invaded Crimea. The secretary made clear that if Russia did not take steps to de-escalate in eastern Ukraine and move its troops back from Ukraine’s border, there would be additional consequences,” the official added.

The official did not state what those consequences would be.

US officials met Friday with Ukrainian finance officials to discuss a “range of strategic and economic issues” according to a State Department statement.

 

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A resident passed food to a pro-Russian militant at a police station in Slovyansk. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — The Ukrainian government on Sunday for the first time sent its security services to confront armed pro-Russian militants in the country’s east, defying warnings from Russia. Commandos engaged in gunfights with men who had set up roadblocks and stormed a Ukrainian police station in Slovyansk, and at least one officer was killed, Ukrainian officials said.

Several officers were injured in the operation, as were four locals, the officials said. Russian news media and residents here disputed that account, saying the Ukrainian forces had only briefly engaged one checkpoint.

In either case, the central government in Kiev has turned to force to try to restore its authority in the east, a course of action that the Russian government has repeatedly warned against.

With tens of thousands of Russian troops massed along Ukraine’s eastern border near Donetsk, Western leaders have worried that Moscow might use unrest in Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking areas as a pretext for an invasion.

Both governments intensified their statements on Sunday. Ukraine’s interim president, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, issued another ultimatum, saying separatists should vacate occupied buildings by Monday or face a “large-scale antiterrorist operation” that would include the Ukrainian military. And Russia claimed that the Ukrainian government was cracking down at the behest of American and European officials.

Ukraine’s ousted president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, speaking late Sunday in Rostov-on-Don, in Russia, echoed Moscow’s charges of American meddling.

Insisting that he remained Ukraine’s commander in chief despite having fled to Russia more than a month ago, he ordered Ukrainian troops to defy what he called “criminal orders” for a crackdown and said the country stood “on the brink of civil war.”

The police station contested by Ukrainian forces was one of several security centers in the eastern region of Donetsk that were seized on Saturday by masked gunmen in coordinated raids that the Ukrainian authorities denounced as Russian “aggression.”

Photo

Residents gathered as protesters guarded a fortified barricade set up at the entrance. At least one officer was killed when Ukrainian armed forces stormed the station on Sunday, officials said. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

By Sunday afternoon, the government’s push to reassert its authority in a vitally important industrial and coal-mining region appeared to have made little headway. Pro-Russian protesters appeared to control not only the police station but also the entire town of Slovyansk, having set up checkpoints at major streets leading into town.

The protesters blocked a major highway in the east, and flags of Russia and their newly declared and unrecognized People’s Republic of Donetsk flew over administrative buildings in several other midsize towns. These included Mariupol, where protesters seized a building Sunday.

Roman Svitan, a security adviser to the Ukrainian authorities in Donetsk, said the operation on Sunday was carried out by Alfa, a special services unit of Ukraine’s state security service. He gave an upbeat assessment of its progress, saying Ukrainian forces had evicted gunmen from the Slovyansk Police Headquarters, though protesters there said nothing of the sort had happened.

Mr. Svitan said most of the expelled gunmen were local pro-Russian extremists, but they had also included Russian operatives.

Residents and men standing by barricades in Slovyansk denied that Ukrainian forces had even entered the town on Sunday. They said one local man who had been out fishing was in a hospital with a wound from a shooting on a highway outside town. Russian television and some locals said the Ukrainian nationalist group Right Sector had attacked protesters at a checkpoint, injuring the fisherman.

Requests to speak to a leader of the armed men produced a man wearing a ski mask who introduced himself as Aleksandr and described himself as a deputy commander of the city of Slovyansk after its merger with the People’s Republic of Donetsk.

 

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Voice  Of America

Gunmen Seize Another Building in Ukraine, Gas Payments to Russia Suspended

Pro-Russian militants have extended their takeovers of public buildings in eastern Ukraine.

The regional interior ministry says gunmen have seized a state security building in Slovyansk.

Earlier Saturday, armed men seized a police station in the city. A VOA correspondent in the region says the militants took about 400 weapons from the station.

Meanwhile, pro-Russian protesters continue to occupy government buildings in the regional capital Donetsk and in Luhansk. Kyiv has offered concessions to the protesters and regional leaders, after its Friday deadline passed for separatists to vacate the buildings.

Acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said he supported amending Ukraine’s constitution and changing laws so regional governors are no longer appointed by the central government, and regional referendums are permitted. He also promised no one would be allowed to “limit the Russian language and the right to speak it in Ukraine.”

NATO says there has been a buildup of Russian military forces along the border with Ukraine recently.

 

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Historic! Feds Forced to Surrender to American Citizens

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 Liberty Blitzkrieg

Why the Standoff at the Bundy Ranch is a Very Big Deal

If you haven’t been following the unfolding drama at the Bundy Ranch about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas you need to start now. The escalating confrontation between irate local residents and federal agents of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has the potential to take a very dangerous turn for the worse at any moment, as hundreds of militia members from states across the country are expected to descend upon the area and make a stand with 67-year-old Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

Before I get into any sort of analysis about what this means within the bigger picture of American politics and society, we need a little background on the situation. The saga itself has been ongoing for two decades and the issue at hand is whether or not Mr. Bundy can graze his 900 head of cattle on a particular section of public lands in Clark County. Cliven Bundy has been ordered to stop on environmental grounds to protect the desert tortoise, but he has stood his ground time and time again. As a result, the feds have now entered the area and are impounding his cattle. According to CNN, Between Saturday and Wednesday, contracted wranglers impounded a total of 352 cattle. The Bundy family, as well as a variety of local residents have already had confrontations with the BLM agents. Tasers have been used and some minor injuries reported. Most significantly, militia members from across the country have already descended upon the area and it seems possible that hundreds may ultimately make it down there.

To me, the argument of who is right and who is wrong in this situation is the least interesting part of the story. I have noted time and time again that the feds are becoming increasingly out of control and belligerent to American citizens. We know the stories (think Aaron Swartz) and we know the overall trend. However, the reason the Bundy Ranch confrontation is so interesting, is that for whatever reason this particular incident seems to be striking a chord of dissent. It is often times the most random, unforeseen and innocuous things that spark social/political movements. This standoff has it all.

…..This picture basically says it all:

Bundy ranch

 

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The Truth About the Nevada Rancher’s Standoff

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Nevada Cattle Rancher Wins ‘Range War’ With Feds

PHOTO: Federal agents clash with armed protestors over a ranchers 20-year tax fight.

A Nevada cattle rancher appears to have won his week-long battle with the federal government over a controversial cattle roundup that had led to the arrest of several protesters.

Cliven Bundy went head to head with the Bureau of Land Management over the removal of hundreds of his cattle from federal land, where the government said they were grazing illegally.

Bundy claims his herd of roughly 900 cattle have grazed on the land along the riverbed near Bunkerville, 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, since 1870 and threatened a “range war” against the BLM on the Bundy Ranch website after one of his sons was arrested while protesting the removal of the cattle.

“I have no contract with the United States government,” Bundy said. “I was paying grazing fees for management and that’s what BLM was supposed to be, land managers and they were managing my ranch out of business, so I refused to pay.”

The federal government had countered that Bundy “owes the American people in excess of $1 million ” in unpaid grazing fees and “refuses to abide by the law of land, despite many opportunities over the last 20 years to do so.”

However, today the BLM said it would not enforce a court order to remove the cattle and was pulling out of the area.

“Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public,” BLM Director Neil Kornze said.

“We ask that all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding as the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service work to end the operation in an orderly manner,” he said.

The roundup began April 5, following lengthy court proceedings dating back to 1993, federal officials said. Federal officers began impounding the first lot of cows last weekend, and Bundy responded by inviting supporters onto his land to protest the action.

“It’s not about cows, it’s about freedom,” Utah resident Yonna Winget told ABC News affiliate KTNV in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“People are getting tired of the federal government having unlimited power,” Bundy’s wife, Carol Bundy told ABC News.

 

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Screenshots  Of  FAA Records For No Fly Zone Over  The Bundy Ranch

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Federal agents back down in stand-off with armed cowboys  1 photo Federalagentsbackdowninstand-offwitharmedcowboys1_zpsaef4e7e9.png

Federal agents back down in stand-off with armed cowboys  3 photo Federalagentsbackdowninstand-offwitharmedcowboys3_zps3e63d363.png

Federal agents back down in stand-off with armed cowboys  2 photo Federalagentsbackdowninstand-offwitharmedcowboys2_zps8aff68c7.png

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Federal agents back down in stand-off with armed cowboys: BLM release cattle after they were surrounded by militia following agreement to stop targeting rancher in modern-day ‘range war’

  • Bureau of Land Management would not enforce court order to remove  cattle and was pulling out of the area
  • Politicians have compared the standoff to Tienanmen Square
  • The Bundy family says they’ve owned the 600,000 acres since 1870 but the Bureau of Land Management says they are illegally grazing
  • The dispute began in 1993 when land was reclassified as to federal property to protect a rare desert tortoise, the government claimed
  • Federal officers stormed the property this week with helicopters and snipers to back up about 200 armed agents
  • They have reportedly seized around 350 of Cliven Bundy’s 900 cattle
  • Cattle were handed back to rancher after tense standoff
  • Tensions escalated after private militias poured in to support the family

By Ryan Gorman and Dan Miller and Meghan Keneally and Jessica Jerreat

Hundreds of heavily armed militia members celebrated their victory over federal law enforcement officers on Saturday after they secured the release of Cliven Bundy’s captured cattle.

In an embarrassing climbdown, the Bureau of Land Management retreated from its high profile standoff with Bundy and his rag-tag bunch of anti-federalists after the BLM attempted to forcibly capture nearly 1,000 of his cattle.

The militia member showed up at corrals outside Mesquite to demand the animals’ return to rancher Cliven Bundy. Some protesters were armed with handguns and rifles at the corrals and at an earlier nearby rally.

Victory: The Bundy family and their supporters fly the American flag as their cattle were released by the Bureau of Land Management back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nevada

Victory: The Bundy family and their supporters fly the American flag as their cattle were released by the Bureau of Land Management back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nevada

Thanks: Rancher Cliven Bundy, middle, addresses his supporters along side Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, right, on April 12, 2014

Thanks: Rancher Cliven Bundy, middle, addresses his supporters along side Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, right, on April 12, 2014

 

Bundy, 67, doesn’t recognize federal authority on land he insists belongs to Nevada. His Mormon family has operated a ranch since the 1870s near the small town of Bunkerville and the Utah and Arizona lines.

‘Good morning America, good morning world, isn’t it a beautiful day in Bunkerville?’ Bundy told a cheering crowd after his cattle were released, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

A number of Bundy’s supporters, who included militia members from California, Idaho and other states, dressed in camouflage and carried rifles and sidearms. During the stand-off, some chanted ‘open that gate’ and ‘free the people.’

A man who identified himself as Scott, 43, said he had traveled from Idaho along with two fellow militia members to support Bundy.

‘If we don’t show up everywhere, there is no reason to show up anywhere,’ said the man, dressed in camouflage pants and a black flak jacket crouched behind a concrete highway barrier, holding an AR-15 rifle. ‘I’m ready to pull the trigger if fired upon,’ Scott said.

Wild west: The Bundy family and their supporters drive their cattle back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nev. after they were released by the Bureau of Land Management on Saturday

 

Fanatical: The edge of a Cliven Bundy supporter camp is shown near the Virgin River Saturday, April 12, 2014, near Bunkerville, Nevada

Fanatical: The edge of a Cliven Bundy supporter camp is shown near the Virgin River Saturday, April 12, 2014, near Bunkerville, Nevada

 

The dispute between Bundy and federal land managers began in 1993 when he stopped paying monthly fees of about $1.35 per cow-calf pair to graze public lands that are also home to imperiled animals such as the Mojave Desert tortoise.

Support: An armed civilian waits nearby in some bushes as the Bundy family and their supporters gather together under the I-15 highway just outside of Bunkerville, Nevada

Support: An armed civilian waits nearby in some bushes as the Bundy family and their supporters gather together under the I-15 highway just outside of Bunkerville, Nevada

 

Land managers limited the Bundy herd to just 150 head on a land which the rancher claims has been in his family for more than 140 years.

The government also claims Bundy has ignored cancellation of his grazing leases and defied federal court orders to remove his cattle.

‘We won the battle,’ said Ammon Bundy, one of the rancher’s sons.

Hundreds of Bundy supporters, some heavily armed, had camped on the road leading to his ranch in a high desert spotted with sagebrush and mesquite trees.

Some held signs reading ‘Americans united against government thugs,’ while others were calling the rally the ‘Battle of Bunkerville,’ a reference to a American Revolutionary War battle of Bunker Hill in Boston.

The large crowd at one point blocked all traffic on Interstate 15. Later, as lanes opened up, motorists honked to support the demonstrators and gave them a thumbs-up sign.

Las Vegas Police Lt. Dan Zehnder said the showdown was resolved with no injuries and no violence. Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie was able to negotiate a resolution after talking with Bundy, he said.

The fight between Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management widened into a debate about states’ rights and federal land-use policy.

Anti-federalist: Armed militia members stand guard on a hilltop overlooking a Clive Bundy supporter camp near the Virgin River Saturday, April 12, 2014, near Bunkerville, Nevada

Anti-federalist: Armed militia members stand guard on a hilltop overlooking a Clive Bundy supporter camp near the Virgin River Saturday, April 12, 2014, near Bunkerville, Nevada

 

The dispute that ultimately triggered the roundup dates to 1993, when the bureau cited concern for the federally protected tortoise in the region.

The bureau revoked Bundy’s grazing rights after he stopped paying grazing fees and disregarded federal court orders to remove his animals.

Kornze’s announcement came after Bundy repeatedly promised to “do whatever it takes” to protect his property and after a string of raucous confrontations between his family members and supporters and federal agents during the weeklong operation.

Bundy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Republican Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval issued a statement praising the agency for its willingness to listen to the state’s concerns.

 

 

Victor: Rancher Cliven Bundy at his home in Bunkerville, after officials called off the government's roundup of cattle

Victor: Rancher Cliven Bundy at his home in Bunkerville, after officials called off the government’s roundup of cattle

 

And they're out: The Bundy family and their supporters drive their cattle back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nev. after they were released by the Bureau of Land Management

And they’re out: The Bundy family and their supporters drive their cattle back onto public land outside of Bunkerville, Nev. after they were released by the Bureau of Land Management

He earlier criticized the agency for creating “an atmosphere of intimidation” and trying to confine protesters to a fenced-in “First Amendment area” well away from the sprawling roundup area.

‘The safety of all individuals involved in this matter has been my highest priority,’ Sandoval said.

‘Given the circumstances, today’s outcome is the best we could have hoped for.’

Nevada’s congressional delegation urged the protesters to be calm and to leave the area.

‘The dispute is over, the BLM is leaving, but emotions and tensions are still near the boiling point, and we desperately need a peaceful conclusion to this conflict,’ U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said in a statement.

‘I urge all the people involved to please return to your homes and allow the BLM officers to collect their equipment and depart without interference.’

The 400 cows gathered during the roundup were short of the BLM’s goal of 900 cows that it says have been trespassing on U.S. land without required grazing permits for over 20 years.

The dispute less than 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas between rancher Cliven Bundy and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management had simmered for days.

Bundy had stopped paying fees for grazing his cattle on the government land and officials said he had ignored court orders.

Mission accomplished: Supporters of the Bundy family hang a sign on the I-15 highway just outside of Bunkerville, Nevada

Mission accomplished: Supporters of the Bundy family hang a sign on the I-15 highway just outside of Bunkerville, Nevada

 

The dispute between Bundy and federal land managers began in 1993 when he stopped paying monthly fees of about $1.35 per cow-calf pair to graze public lands

The dispute between Bundy and federal land managers began in 1993 when he stopped paying monthly fees of about $1.35 per cow-calf pair to graze public lands

 

Cowboys and patriots: Kholten Gleave, right, of Utah, pauses for the National Anthem outside of Bunkerville , Nev. while gathering with other supporters of the Bundy family to challenge the Bureau of Land Management

Cowboys and patriots: Kholten Gleave, right, of Utah, pauses for the National Anthem outside of Bunkerville , Nev. while gathering with other supporters of the Bundy family to challenge the Bureau of Land Management

 

Anti-government groups, right-wing politicians and gun-rights activists camped around Bundy’s ranch to support him, in a standoff that tapped into long-simmering anger in Nevada and other Western states, where vast tracts of land are owned and governed by federal agencies.

The bureau had called in a team of armed rangers to Nevada to seize the 1,000 head of cattle on Saturday but backed down in the interests of safety.

‘Based on information about conditions on the ground and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public,’ the bureau’s director, Neil Kornze, said in a statement.

The protesters, who at the height of the standoff numbered about 1,000, met the news with applause. Then they quickly advanced on the metal pens where the cattle confiscated earlier in the week were being held.

After consultations with the rancher’s family, the bureau decided to release the cattle it had rounded up, and the crowd began to disperse.

‘This is what I prayed for,’ said Margaret Houston, one of Bundy’s sisters. ‘We are so proud of the American people for being here with us and standing with us.

No horsing around: The Bundy family and their supporters fly the American flag as their cattle were released from a corral

No horsing around: The Bundy family and their supporters fly the American flag as their cattle were released from a corral

 

Cheers: Protesters pump their fists as cowboys herd cattle that belongs to rancher Cliven Bundy

Cheers: Protesters pump their fists as cowboys herd cattle that belongs to rancher Cliven Bundy

 

Firepower: Protester Eric Parker from central Idaho aims his weapon from a bridge next to the Bureau of Land Management's base camp where seized cattle

Firepower: Protester Eric Parker from central Idaho aims his weapon from a bridge next to the Bureau of Land Management’s base camp where seized cattle

 

Victory speech: Rancher Cliven Bundy, middle, addresses his supporters along side Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, right, informing the public that the BLM has agreed to cease the roundup of his family's cattle

Victory speech: Rancher Cliven Bundy, middle, addresses his supporters along side Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, right, informing the public that the BLM has agreed to cease the roundup of his family’s cattle

 

In an interview prior to the bureau’s announcement, Bundy said he was impressed by the level of support he had received.

‘I’m excited that we are really fighting for our freedom. We’ve been losing it for a long time,’ Bundy said.

An official with an environmental group that had notified the government it would sue unless federal land managers sought to protect tortoises on the grazing allotment used by Bundy’s cattle expressed outrage at the end of the cattle roundup.

‘The sovereign militias are ruling the day,’ said Rob Mrowka, senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. ‘Now that this precedent has been set and they’re emboldened by the government’s capitulation, what’s to stop them from applying the same tactics and threats elsewhere?’

Roger Taylor, retired district manager with the Bureau of Land Management in Arizona, also said the agency’s decision to release the cattle will have repercussions.

‘The (agency) is going to be in a worse situation where they will have a much more difficult time getting those cattle off the land and getting Bundy in compliance with regulations,’ he said.

Deal: Cliven Bundy shakes hands with Sheiff Doug Gillespie on Saturday morning as the rancher comes to a deal to stop federal agents rounding up his cattle

Deal: Cliven Bundy shakes hands with Sheiff Doug Gillespie on Saturday morning as the rancher comes to a deal to stop federal agents rounding up his cattle

Show down: Ranchers on horseback and protesters gather at the BLM camp to try to claim back cattle the agency has already rounded up

Show down: Ranchers on horseback and protesters gather at the BLM camp to try to claim back cattle the agency has already rounded up

 

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Bundy Ranch Showdown! The Bigger Picture!

 

Published on Apr 12, 2014

 

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Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Putin Pledges To Protect All Ethnic Russians Anywhere. So, Where Are They?

Russian enough?

Russian enough?

By Robert Coalson
In recent weeks, the Russian government has articulated what might be called the Putin Doctrine, a blanket assertion that Moscow has the right and the obligation to protect Russians anywhere in the world.

Speaking on Russian television last month, Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, said that “Russia is the country on which the Russian world is based” and that Putin “is probably the main guarantor of the safety of the Russian world.”

The ebbing and flowing of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union over recent centuries have left millions of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers outside the borders of today’s Russian Federation.

Many of them — from Moldova’s Transdniester to eastern Ukraine and elsewhere — have responded to the Putin Doctrine with calls for Russian “protection.”

A banner outside a government building in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk that is occupied by pro-Russian separatists reads: “Russia! Save us from slavery.”

‘New Russia’ And Ukraine

The Kremlin’s new position has come into sharp focus in recent weeks in the Ukrainian region of Crimea — annexed by Russia last month — and in the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine. Russian nationalists such as the Eurasianist ideologue Aleksandr Dugin refer to this region by the historical name “Novorossiya,” or “New Russia,” which also encompasses several southern regions of Russia including Rostov Oblast and Stavropol and Krasnodar krais.

The area was added to the Russian Empire over the 18th and early 19th centuries by military conquests over the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire. Beginning with Catherine the Great, the fertile region was handed out to Russian nobility who enserfed the local population. Although Catherine notably invited foreigners from Europe to settle in the region, Russification of the region was official policy.

Click to open interactive infographic in new windowClick to open interactive infographic in new window

Today there are more than 5 million ethnic Russians in the Ukrainian parts of Novorossiya, making up a significant plurality in most of the regions. Russians compose a majority in Crimea because of energetic Russification there and the 1944 mass deportation of Crimean Tatars, who are only now approaching their pre-deportation population levels on the peninsula.

Deportations In Moldova

On the edge of historical Novorossiya is the Moldovan region of Transdniester, which today is home to at least 150,000 Russian passport holders. The region was brought into the Russian Empire in the 1790s and its capital, Tiraspol, was founded as a border outpost by the legendary General Aleksandr Suvorov.

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Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) speaks at a meeting with top officials on gas deliveries to Ukraine at his Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on April 10.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) speaks at a meeting with top officials on gas deliveries to Ukraine at his Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on April 10.

By RFE/RL
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a letter to leaders of 18 European countries warning of a suspension of gas supplies to Ukraine if Kyiv does not pay off its $2.2 billion gas debt.

The Kremlin said on April 10 that Putin told the European leaders that the “critical situation” over Ukraine’s debt could impact the transit of Russian gas to much of Europe.

He wrote that the state-controlled energy giant Gazprom would be “compelled to switch over to advance payment for gas deliveries” for Ukraine and that if Ukraine remains unable to settle its debt, Gazprom “will completely or partially cease gas deliveries.”

Putin raised concerns about Ukraine siphoning off gas from pipelines leading to Europe and said Ukraine needed some 11.5 billion cubic meters of gas, worth some $5.5 billion, to fill the country’s underground storage tanks.

Putin also wrote Russia is prepared to take part, along with the European Union, in efforts to restore Ukraine’s economy.

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Aid to Ukraine not forever: Putin

Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW. — Russia does not recognise the legitimacy of Ukraine’s new authorities, but continues its economic assistance to its crisis-hit neighbour, a situation that will not last forever, Russian president Vladimir Putin said yesterday.
“As you know, our partners in Europe recognise the legitimacy of the current Kiev authorities, but are doing nothing in order to support Ukraine; not a single dollar, not a single euro,” Putin said.

“The Russian Federation doesn’t recognise the legitimacy of the authorities in Kiev, but will continue to give it economic support and subsidise Ukraine’s economy with hundreds of millions and billions of dollars for now.

“This situation, of course, can’t continue eternally,” the Russian leader added.
He demanded that Russia remain disciplined and fulfil all contract obligations with Ukraine, but added that the country must be prepared to replace Ukrainian goods and correct state defence orders.

“I ask you to be disciplined and fulfil all contract obligations with our Ukrainian partners, but we need to be prepared for any development in the situation . . . including import replacements,” Putin said during a meeting of senior officials.

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Little expected from Ukraine talks

Updated: 04:53, Thursday April 10, 2014

Little expected from Ukraine talks

The US says it is going into an upcoming meeting with Russia, Europe and Ukraine on the crisis in the former Soviet republic with low expectations.

‘I have to say that we don’t have high expectations for these talks, but we do believe it is very important to keep that diplomatic door open and will see what they bring,’ Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European affairs, said on Wednesday.

US and EU diplomats have agreed with Russia to hold four-way negotiations involving Ukraine next week to de-escalate the worst European security crisis in decades.

An EU diplomat said the talks would likely be held on April 17 in Vienna.

In signs that Russia will continue its pressure on the Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has warned the country may begin requiring advance payment for gas supplies unless Ukraine comes to the negotiating table over its unpaid energy bills.

 

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Why Did FBI Monitor Occupy Houston, and Then Hide Sniper Plot Against Protest Leaders?

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Published time: March 24, 2014 10:49

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo/Jewel Samad)

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo/Jewel Samad)

 

 

A Russian senator has asked the Nobel Committee to annul the award given to the US President last year claiming Barack Obama’s double standard policy has helped develop the political crisis in Ukraine.

The double standard policy is incompatible with the title of Nobel Peace Prize laureate. I think the Nobel committee must take an objective look at the situation and consider the possibility of taking the title from Barack Obama,” Senator Lyudmila Bokova (Saratov Region) was quoted as saying by the Izvestia daily.

The latest statements and activities of Mr. Obama are clearly aimed against the non-violent solution of the Ukrainian crisis. Besides, the US President is pursuing the objective of world domination and the interests of the Ukrainian people is the last thing to be taken into consideration by him,” the Russian politician said.

Bokova added she had thoroughly studied Barack Obama’s Nobel speech and everything in it was right, but the US President’s own actions now contradict his position.

 

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“The double standard policy is incompatible with the title of Nobel Peace Prize laureate. I think the Nobel committee must take an objective look at the situation and consider the possibility of taking the title from Barack Obama,” Russian Senator Lyudmila Bokova said.

Russian Senator seeks to strip President Obama of Nobel over double standards
rt.com
A Russian senator has asked the Nobel Committee to annul the award given to the US President last year claiming Barack Obama’s double standard…

  • Gerard Peter DepøyanThat “prize” was already tainted since the early 1970′s when Kissinger got it for bombing the shit out of Cambodia…
    • 14 Replies
  • Neil NoCareGive it to Snowden instead
    • 23 Replies
  • Mahan RiazatiI love America, but the criminal U.S government is becoming a threat to both international security and of it’s own citizens.
    • 4 Replies
  • NostraDamz TuvilyizjhaStrip him of his color. He is a disgrace to the race of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
    • 4 Replies
  • Dan JohnHe never deserved it to begin with, give it to a TRUE hero, Edward Snowden
    • 2 Replies
  • Grace BillieI support Russian senator on this.” Obomba” is not worth it
  • John HugillNot even Gandhi got a Nobel peace prize…yet Obama gets one?? Crazy!!!!
  • Jeannot MwangalaVLADIMIR PUTIN deserves a PRIX NOBEL for sure
  • James Simmondsthey should, then they should give it to Putin for his excellent work in Syria, and showing true democracy in Crimea
    • Kader BenkadaNo they should give it to Obama for his expelle work in Syria. Don’t be dump it’s crystal clear America it’s the bigest terrorist state on earth they can’t live in peace coz peace for the American is no business

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Price tag for Russian gas to Ukraine could rise to $500

Published time: March 20, 2014 12:10

Reuters / Sergej Vasiljev

Reuters / Sergej Vasiljev

The price of Russian gas to Ukraine could rise to $500 per 1,000 cubic meters, as future developments in relations between Moscow and Kiev remain vague.

From April 1 the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas will go up to $360-$370 per 1,000 cubic metres, after Russia cancelled the discount agreed in late December, Pavel Zavalny, the head of Russian Gas Society told Izvestia newspaper.

In the worst case scenario, and Ukraine decides to take over Russian property, as well as new threats from radical nationalists, the price could jump to as high as to $500, the paper added.

 

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Russia to redirect trade elsewhere in case of EU-US sanctions

Published time: March 19, 2014 16:59

Russian President's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolsky)

Russian President’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolsky)

Russia will switch to other trade partners if economic sanctions are imposed by the US and the European Union, the Russian President’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has said.

“If one economic partner on the one side of the globe impose sanctions, we will pay attention to new partners from the globe’s other side. The world is not monopolar, we will concentrate on other economic partners,” RIA news quotes Peskov.

According to him, possible economic sanctions by the US and EU on Russia are unacceptable, and the Russian Federation intends to offer further economic cooperation with the European Union.

“We want to keep good relations with the EU and with the US. Especially with the European Union as it is the main economic, investment and trade partner of the Russian Federation. Our mutual economic dependence assumes that we shall have good relations,” the Russian President’s Press Secretary declared. He also emphasized that discussion of global economic problems without involvement of Russia can’t be a complete discussion.

In a Tuesday telephone conversation between Russia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and the US Secretary of State John Kerry they discussed the situation in Ukraine, and Lavrov said sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union against the Russian Federation are absolutely unacceptable and won’t come without consequences.

According to data from the EU’s Eurostat, Russia accounts for 7 percent of imports and 12 percent of exports in the 28 European Union bloc, making it the region’s third most important trading partner, behind the USA and China.

In turn, the EU is Russia’s biggest trade and investment partner, with trade turnover estimated at $330 billion in 2012.

 

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How alike are Crimea and Kosovo?

AP

Vladimir Putin’s key argument justifying Crimea’s secession from Ukraine and annexation by Russia following Sunday’s referendum is the West’s acceptance of Kosovo’s declaration of statehood in 2008.

With the strong support of the United States, the ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo seceded from Serbia despite Serbia’s strong objections. At the time, Russia argued that the Kosovo declaration was a serious breach of international law.

Here’s a look at Crimea and Kosovo:

How are Crimea and Kosovo similar?

Both Kosovo and Crimea have a majority who belong to an ethnic minority. Just as Kosovo Albanians feared Serbian repression during the autocratic rule of late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Russians living in Crimea feared the Ukrainian nationalists who came to power in Kiev in February.

Both the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and the ethnic Russians in Crimea voted overwhelmingly in favor of secession, while the Serbian minority in Kosovo and the Ukrainian and Tatar minorities in Crimea mostly boycotted the votes.

There was foreign military intervention in both regions with NATO intervening in Kosovo and pro-Russian troops seizing control of Crimea ahead of the vote.

What are their main differences?

NATO intervened in Kosovo in 1999 only after significant evidence of Serbian abuses against ethnic Albanians, including mass killings and deportations. Pro-Russian forces intervened in Crimea with no major abuses or violence reported against ethnic Russians.

The West didn’t annex Kosovo after driving Milosevic’s forces out of the former Serbian province, but sent in peacekeepers. Russian troops, meanwhile, took control of Crimea before its referendum was held.

 

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‘Crimea is now part of Russia, the West has to come to terms with that’

Published time: March 20, 2014 11:57

Workers put up a new sign at the local parliament building in Simferopol March 19, 2014.Workers put up a new sign at the local parliament building in Simferopol March 19, 2014.(Reuters / Thomas Peter )

Workers put up a new sign at the local parliament building in Simferopol March 19, 2014.Workers put up a new sign at the local parliament building in Simferopol March 19, 2014.(Reuters / Thomas Peter )

Claiming that Crimea is part of Ukraine is the same as Serbia arguing that Kosovo is not really separated from it, Gregory Copley, editor of Defense & Foreign Affairs, told RT.

“Crimea is now part of Russia, the West will come to terms with that, the question is how much longer they’ll perpetuate the crisis in the rest of Ukraine and whether they will escalate the problem, which I think will be unwise for the US and Western European interests,” Copley said.

Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff, goes further, saying that as long as Crimea belongs to Russia, Ukraine should be made a buffer zone between the West and Russia.

“This is a serious situation that will be alleviated with recognition that Russia and Crimea are going to be together, a recognition that the Ukraine should be a buffer state between let it say NATO, the West, and Russia, and a recognition on the Russian side that that’s the case and Ukraine is left alone, and the same thing on the Western side,” Wilkerson argued.

He blames the US for the creation of the artificial crisis, which resulted in downgrading relations between great world powers whereas their cooperation in other spheres is so needed.

 

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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (C), Crimean parliament speaker Vladimir Konstantionov (L) and Sevastopol’s new de facto mayor Alexei Chaly sign a treaty on the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula becoming part of Russia in the Kremlin on March 18, 2014 (AFP, Kirill Kudryavtsev)

 

Russia’s brazen annexation of Crimea presents a vexing foreign policy crisis for the Western powers. How can these actions be denounced without pointing a finger back upon their own forays and interventions? Indeed, President Putin said as much in his recent addressin the Kremlin, chiding the West for its condemnations of Russia’s actions and stating that “it’s a good thing that they at least remember that there exists such a thing as international law – better late than never.” Putin reinforced this view by citing the “Kosovo precedent” – which he takes as “a precedent our western colleagues created with their own hands in a very similar situation, when they agreed that the unilateral separation of Kosovo from Serbia, exactly what Crimea is doing now, was legitimate and did not require any permission from the country’s central authorities.”

Without validating Russia’s motives and the ways in which such arguments provide rhetorical cover for its own imperial aspirations, there is a salient point here that coheres with arguments often cited by progressive voices in the West. In particular, as to the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other interventions, there are echoes of anti-war perspectives to be found in the Russian President’s deflection of Western criticisms: “Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right. They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle ‘If you are not with us, you are against us.’”

“As many pointed out at the time, the invasion of Iraq in particular foretold a world wracked by disregard for international norms and defined by the mercenary pursuits of national self-interest.”

The fact that Russia is now explicitly validating these misguided principles seems to be of no moment to President Putin. A stronger argument, to be sure, would be to refuse to participate in exceptionalism-oriented policies, perhaps instead arguing for Crimean autonomy rather than its annexation. Certainly the presence of Russian troops there during an electoral referendum gives the appearance of coercion rather than liberation. If the US and its allies are to be critiqued for hypocritically advocating “democracy” through “the rule of the gun,” then it is difficult to see how Russia’s invocation of similar principles to justify its behavior represents more than mere cynicism and an elaborate rationalization for its own ambitions in the region.

We can thus perceive in all of this a sense of foreign policy blowback from the US-led wars and interventions of recent years. By citing Kosovo as well as Iraq and Afghanistan (among other instances, such as Libya), Putin connects the policies of the last three US Presidential Administrations, essentially constituting the period since the dissipation of the former Soviet Union. Further, by reaching back into Crimea’s status as part of Russia’s “common historical legacy” and its longstanding cultural importance to Russia, an attempt is being made to turn back the clock to the halcyon days before the fall of the Berlin Wall. (No mention was made, of course, of the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan throughout the 1980s, which helped form the basis for a world in which aggressive interventions – and eventual blowback – would soon define a “new normal” for international affairs.) While perhaps not quite (yet) representing a reassembly of the Iron Curtain, the annexation of Crimea clearly presents numerous strategic implications for the balance of power both regionally and globally.

To wit, Putin specifically notes the strategic importance of Crimea as the “main base of the Black Sea Fleet” and as a potential bulwark against NATO incursions eastward. Reinforcing this mindset, Putin observes that Sevastopol (in southwestern Crimea) is a “fortress” and that Crimea’s deep connections to the homeland symbolize “Russian military glory.” Not explicitly cited in Putin’s speech is the centrality of Crimea as a locus for oil and gas production, which as Businessweek notes has already drawn the interest of Big Oil. Others have observed the importance of the region for agricultural distribution and production, and the pipelining of gasacross the continent. There has been relatively little analysis of the situation in Ukraine as a “resource conflict,” but in the present state of geopolitics such implications are always at hand.

“In abdicating their already-tenuous hold on moral legitimacy in international affairs, the US and its allies have eroded one of the last potential bastions against the imminent realization of a world dominated by strategic resource acquisition as a function of security.”

In this light, we can read the Crimean crisis as a form of comeuppance for policies set in motion and continually reinforced by nations in general and the US in particular, bent on promoting a form of “security” that devolves upon control of resources and a penchant for unilateralism in achieving this end. In fact, President Obama unabashedly affirmed such policies in his speech to the UN in September 2013: “The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region…. We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil, the world still depends on the region’s energy supply, and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy.” As such, President Obama was not so much announcing a new policy as validating an ongoing one: the legacy of the Bush Doctrine based on unilateral action and calculated intervention. Once these terms of engagement have been set, it becomes difficult to condemn others taking up the mantle for their own purposes.

And this, in the end, may well be the lingering retribution for the US-led wars of recent years. As many pointed out at the time, the invasion of Iraq in particular foretold a world wracked by disregard for international norms and defined by the mercenary pursuits of national self-interest. In setting a template for the policy engagements to follow, this archetype of adventurism ushered in an era in which exceptionalism has become the norm, where the cavalier disregard of domestic and/or global objections is considered politically acceptable, and where powerful nations can exercise a free hand in determining the future of less powerful ones when strategic interests are involved. It would be hard to conceive of a more pointed version of realpolitik, and the term is doubly poignant in light of the outcomes we are seeing today.

Russia’s rhetorical reliance on misguided Western policies does little more than render concrete that which has already been known and deployed by powerful interests for decades, if not longer. But the invocation of recent US-led forays and the specific use of the word “exceptionalism” in Russian discourse add a dimension that is deeply troubling for the future prospects of peace. By making realpolitik more, well, real, the annexation of Crimea is less likely to draw a military response from the West than it is to elicit wider forms of emulation. In abdicating their already-tenuous hold on moral legitimacy in international affairs, the US and its allies have eroded one of the last potential bastions against the imminent realization of a world dominated by strategic resource acquisition as a function of security.

Again, none of this should be surprising by now, although we might take a moment to lament its further instantiation as the dominant modus operandi of powerful interests across the globe. Such a state of affairs asks us to revisit the past and reassess our narrowing options for the future.

Randall Amster

Randall Amster, JD, PhD, is Director of the Program on Justice and Peace at Georgetown University, and serves as Executive Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Association. His forthcoming book Peace Ecology is due out in May from Paradigm Publishers. Previous books include Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness, and the co-edited volume Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action.

 

 

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Bank of China Centre

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Author Baycrest

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BERLIN Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:35am EDT

(Reuters) – China’s top envoy to Germany has warned the West against punishing Russia with sanctions for its intervention in Ukraine, saying such measures could lead to a dangerous chain reaction that would be difficult to control.

In an interview with Reuters days before the European Union is threatening to impose its first sanctions on Russia since the Cold War, ambassador Shi Mingde issued the strongest warning against such measures by any top Chinese official to date.

“We don’t see any point in sanctions,” Shi said. “Sanctions could lead to retaliatory action, and that would trigger a spiral with unforeseeable consequences. We don’t want this.”

The interview was conducted on Wednesday, the same day that the EU agreed a framework for sanctions that would slap travel bans and asset freezes on people and companies accused by Brussels of violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has taken the lead in trying to mediate in the crisis, has said the measures, which mirror steps announced by the United States, will be imposed on Monday unless Russia accepts the idea of a “contact group” to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

Using her toughest rhetoric since the crisis began, she warned in a speech in parliament on Thursday that Russia risked “massive” political and economic damage if it did not change course in the coming days.

Russia’s Deputy Economy Minister Alexei Likhachev responded by promising “symmetrical” sanctions by Moscow.

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