Category: Costs of War


Fighting in Slavyansk on Monday, chaos in Odessa, and entrenchment on all elevates talk of open war

- Jon Queally, staff writer

Pro-Russia gunmen on armored personal carriers passing by barricades on a road leading into Slavyansk. (Photograph: Darko Vojinovic/AP)

 

Interim president Oleksandr Turchynov on Monday was the latest to indicate that the spiraling violence in an increasingly divided Ukraine looks more and more like civil war as efforts to contain uprisings in the east against Kiev’s authority have only elevated the violence in recent days.

“War is in effect being waged against us, and we must be ready to repel this aggression,” said Turchynov in a televised address from Kiev and referring to violence in the cities of Odessa, Slavyansk, and elsewhere over the weekend.

According to Agence France-Presse, the latest high-level warning from Kiev comes as Ukraine spirals “further into a chaos that many fear could result in open civil war.”

Turchynov has called up additional forces and reintroduced conscription for military-aged Ukrainians citing fear of a Russian invasion on the eastern border.

This AFP video report shows how some regular Ukrainians are preparing for “civil war”:

Report: civilians in Ukraine ready for civil war


Meanwhile, in and around the city of Slavyansk on Monday, journalists reported that opposing factions were exchanging heavy gunfire and that loud explosions could be heard throughout the area.

And in Donetsk, militias opposed to Kiev’s rule and calling for a referendum vote on their autonomy have now taken full control of the city despite continued threats from the Ukraine army.

“What is happening in the east is not a short-term action,” said Vasyl Krutov, who heads the Kiev government’s military operations in the east. “This is essentially a war.”

As the following map by AFP shows, the number of cities in open revolt against the Kiev government is growing:

The Associated Press reports:

Ukraine is facing its worst crisis in decades as the polarised nation of 46 million tries to decide whether to look towards Europe, as its western regions want to do, or improve ties with Russia, which is favoured by the many Russian-speakers in the east.

In the last few weeks, anti-government forces have stormed and seized government buildings and police stations in a dozen eastern Ukrainian cities. Authorities in Kiev – who blame Russia for backing the insurgents – have up to now been largely powerless to react.

And since Russia has kept tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine’s eastern border – and annexed its key Black Sea peninsula of Crimea last month – Ukraine’s central government fears Russia could try to invade and grab more territory.

Since the government began trying to take back the buildings late last week, Slavyansk has been under a tight security cordon. Movement in and out of the city has ground almost to a halt, causing shortages in basic supplies. Lines have been seen at grocery stores.

The goals of the insurgency are ostensibly geared towards pushing for broader powers of autonomy for the region, but some insurgents favour separatism, and the annexation of Crimea looms over the entire political and military discussion.

Following Friday’s violence in Odessa and the growing number of revolts in the east, former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, spoke with Time magazine and made this warning: “The last 24 hours was a major escalation,” told TIME. “This is real. This is war.”

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File:Radioactive.svg Internationally recognized symbol.  by  Cary Bass

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HAZMAT Ukraine Chernivtsi Oblast, Chernivtsi Damage level Details

 

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RSOE EDIS

HAZMAT in Ukraine on Tuesday, 06 May, 2014 at 13:00 (01:00 PM) UTC.

Description
Ukraine’s security forces have seized ‘potentially radioactive’ material from a group in the country’s west. Quoting a spokesperson for the Security Service of Urkaine (SBU), The Kiev Post reported that the SBU had seized a “potentially radioactive” substance weighing 1.5 kilograms in Chernivtsi Oblast. It added there was speculation that separatists may have been preparing to detonate a “dirty bomb.” The SBU arrested 10 people in the operation, including one who is a citizen of the Russian Federation, according to the report.

 

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Interior Ministry: Four Ukrainian soldiers killed, 30 wounded in anti-terrorist operation in Sloviansk (LIVE UPDATES)

May 5, 2014, 6:27 p.m. | Ukraine — by Kyiv Post

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov stands at a checkpoint near the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on May 5, 2014. Four Ukrainian troops were killed and 30 wounded in intense fighting around the rebel-held town of Slavyansk on May 5, the interior ministry said. The ministry added that the pro-Russian gunmen controlling the town were using civilians as human shields and were shooting from houses, some of which were on fire. It said there were civilian casualties but did not provide a toll. AFP PHOTO / SERGEY BOBOK

SBU: Sniper nests discovered in Donetsk Oblast

2:14 p.m. — A spokesperson for the Security Service of Urkaine (SBU) said in a briefing on May 5 that members from the elite “Alpha” special forces team discovered and neutralized a sniper nest in a television tower in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, on May 3.

Two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in the operation, Marina Ostapenko, the SBU spokesperson, reported.

Ostapenko told reporters that the SBU has identified similar sniper nests in other parts of Donetsk Oblast, but has yet to clear them.

She also said that the SBU had seized a “potentially radioactive” substance weighing 1.5 kilograms in Chernivtsi Oblast, speculating that separatists may have been preparing to detonate a “dirty bomb.” The SBU arrested 10 people in the operation, including one who is a citizen of the Russian Federation. – Isaac Webb

 

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Ukraine: Many insurgents killed in Slovyansk

Associated Press

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Raw: Pro-Russians in Ukraine Prepare Defenses

Pro-Russia insurgents shot down two Ukrainian helicopters Friday and Ukraine reported many militants killed or wounded as the interim government in Kiev launched its first major offensive against an insurgency that has seized government buildings across the east.

The Kremlin said Kiev’s military move against the insurgents “destroyed” the two-week-old Geneva agreement on cooling Ukraine’s crisis. President Barack Obama said it was obvious to everyone now that the pro-Russia militants were not peaceful protesters and the U.N. Security Council held an emergency session in Ukraine at Russia’s request.

Fighting broke out around dawn near Slovyansk, a city 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the Russian border that has become the focus of the armed insurgency. Two helicopter crew members were killed in the crashes, both sides said, and the insurgents reported one member killed.

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov later said two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and seven wounded in Friday’s clashes and the insurgents suffered significant losses, including many killed or injured. It was not clear if the two referred to the helicopter crew.

“Our security forces are fighting mercenaries of foreign states, terrorists and criminals,” he said in a statement

By early evening, Turchynov said the army controlled all of the checkpoints around Slovyansk, a city of 125,000 people.

One of the helicopters was hit by a surface-to-air missile, the Ukrainian Security Service said, calling it a sophisticated weapon that undercut Russia’s claims the city was simply under the control of armed locals. The agency said its forces were fighting “highly skilled foreign military men” in Slovyansk.

The Russian state television channel Rossia 24 showed one man they said was a wounded helicopter pilot reportedly being helped by pro-Russia forces.

Central Slovyansk still remained in the hands of pro-Russia gunmen, according to AP journalists in the city. Several foreign news crews trying to cover the fighting were detained for several hours Friday before being released.

A clash also broke out late Friday between pro-Russians and government supporters in Odessa, a Black Sea coast port some 550 kilometers (330 miles) from the turmoil in the east. Police said one person died from gunshot fire and other was wounded. Until now, Odessa had remained largely untroubled since the February toppling of pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych, which ignited tensions in the east.

Turchynov admitted earlier this week that the central government had lost control of the east, and said some government troops and police there were “either helping or cooperating with terrorist organizations.” He said Ukrainian forces were working to prevent the unrest from spreading to central areas like Odessa.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said the Ukrainian offensive “effectively destroyed the last hope for the implementation of the Geneva agreements” that aimed to defuse the crisis. But Dmitry Peskov said Russia “continues to undertake consistent efforts on de-escalation.”

Putin had warned Ukraine not to move against the insurgents and said it should withdraw its military from the volatile eastern and southern regions.

 

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Syrian govt and opposition accuse each other of ‘deadly chlorine attack’

Published time: April 13, 2014 03:35
Edited time: April 13, 2014 11:27

Still from YouTube video/Kafrzita

Still from YouTube video/Kafrzita

Syrian state channels say that Nusra Front radicals are behind a chemical attack that has killed two and injured more than 100 people in a village in central Syria, on Friday. The opposition insists the injuries were caused by government’s bombardment.

State-run Syrian television blamed members of the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front for using chlorine gas in an attack on Syrian village that killed at least two people. It did not say how it confirmed chlorine was used. According to the report the Islamist group had planned two more chemical strikes on civilian targets.

Earlier on Saturday, videos showing a field hospital in Kfar Zeita – about 200 km north of Damascus and on the frontline of intense fighting – were uploaded by opposition activists. The pictures showed obviously weakened civilians, including small children, breathing through oxygen masks, as medical personnel attended to them.

 

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VOA News

FILE - This Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 citizen journalism file image shows a member of UN investigation team taking samples of sands near a part of a missile that is likely to contain chemicals, according to activists, in Damascus countryside of Ain Terma, Syria.FILE – This Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 citizen journalism file image shows a member of UN investigation team taking samples of sands near a part of a missile that is likely to contain chemicals, according to activists, in Damascus countryside of Ain Terma, Syria.

The Syrian government, rebel forces and a rights group say poison gas has injured several people in a central village. The government and rebels are blaming each other for the incident.

The Syrian National Coalition and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that government air raids resulted in dozens of injuries and a gas release on Friday in the village of Kfar Zeita.

State-run Syrian television on Saturday blamed members of the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front for using chlorine gas at Kfar Zeita, which it says killed two people.

 

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SFGate

Poison gas claims complicate Syrian civil war

Updated 2:06 am, Sunday, April 13, 2014

BEIRUT (AP) — Both sides in Syria’s bloody civil war said Saturday that a rural village fell victim to a poison gas attack, an assault that reportedly injured scores of people amid an ongoing international effort to rid the country of chemical weapons.

What exactly happened Friday in Kfar Zeita, a rebel-held village in Hama province some 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Damascus, remains unclear and likely won’t be known for some time. It took United Nations weapons inspectors months to say it was likely some chemical weapons attacks happened last year, including an August attack that killed hundreds and nearly sparked Western airstrikes against President Bashar Assad‘s forces.

But online videos posted by rebel activists from Kfar Zeita echoed earlier images that sparked a world outcry, showing pale-faced men, women and children gasping for breath at a field hospital. They suggest an affliction by some kind of poison — and yet another clouded incident where both sides blame each other in a conflict that activists say has killed more than 150,000 people with no end in sight.

The main Western-backed opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said the poison gas attack hurt dozens of people, though it did not identify the gas used.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group that relies on a network of on-the-ground volunteers, said the gas attack happened during air raids that left heavy smoke over the area. It reported that people suffered from suffocation and breathing problems after the attack, but gave no further details.

State-run Syrian television blamed members of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front rebel group for the attack, saying they used chlorine gas to kill two people and injure more than 100. It did not say how it confirmed chlorine was used.

Chlorine, one of the most commonly manufactured chemicals in the U.S., is used to purify drinking water. But as a gas, it can be deadly, with the German army using it in warfare in World War I. The Geneva Protocol of 1925, which Syria signed, banned its use in battle.

The TV report also claimed the Nusra Front is preparing for another chemical attack against the Wadi Deif area in the northern province of Idlib, as well as another area in Hama. The government station did not explain how it knew the Nusra Front’s plans.

Activists in the village could not be reached Saturday.

 

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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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Vets, Docs Worry Fort Hood Shootings Will Deepen PTSD Stigma

The word “PTSD” had barely left the mouth of Fort Hood’s commander late Wednesday when, across the nation, many veterans with those symptoms and doctors who treat the malady understood they faced a renewed battle: a resurgence of the stigma that comes with that diagnosis.

The Fort Hood tragedy –- 16 wounded and four killed, including identified shooter Ivan Lopez, a soldier being evaluated for PTSD –- is precisely the type of event that makes combat veterans cringe. Many worry they’ll be further mislabeled as dangerous time bombs, as the next to snap, and that post-traumatic stress will again be misrepresented and misunderstood as a condition that sparks public, violent outbursts.

“That is not what post-traumatic stress is or what it does,” said Ingrid Herrera-Yee, a clinical psychologist in the Washington, D.C. area who treats veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health issues as well as their family members and civilians. Her husband, Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Ian Yee, spent three combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Yes, there is anger and irritability (associated with PTSD), but it’s usually internalized. You’re more likely to see it as someone who is withdrawn, anxious and numb, who’s lost interest in life. Some veterans explain it to me this way: ‘The last thing you want is to go out and lash out,” said Herrera-Yee, adding: “Just like any victims of a trauma –- rape or domestic violence -– they can become fearful of their surroundings, but they’re not going to react angrily toward their surroundings. For them, it’s all about avoidance.”

“You’re more likely to see it as someone who is withdrawn, anxious and numb, who’s lost interest in life. Some veterans explain it to me this way: ‘The last thing you want is to go out and lash out.’”

For years, Pentagon brass and branch commanders have urged troops and veterans to seek mental-health help if they feel the need, while repeating the message that, if they do see a doctor, they will not be viewed as weak but as strong. That campaign seems to have finally dented the macho-military mantra that every soldier can handle his or her own business. Many veterans are turning to doctors to begin addressing post-service anxiety issues, often fueled by repeated or long deployments.

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End of the Petro Dollar

Courtesy of oil-price.net

On March 6, Congress passed overwhelmingly, at the behest of the Obama Administration. new economic sanctions on Russia for their intervention in the Crimean region of Ukraine. In doing so, President Obama has now placed the dollar and entire Treasury reserve structure at risk, and as Dr. Jim Willie noted yesterday, has brought America to the brink of its ‘Waterloo’.

If the Kremlin demands Gold bullion (or even Russian Rubles) for oil payments, then the interventions to subvert the Ruble currency by the London and Wall Street houses will backfire and blow up in the bankster faces. Expect any surplus Rubles would be converted quickly to Gold bullion. If the Chinese demand that they are permitted to pay for oil shipments in Yuan currency, then the entire Petro-Dollar platform will be subjected to sledge hammers and wrecking balls. The new Petro-Yuan defacto standard will have been launched from the Shanghai outpost. If the Saudis curry favor to the Russians and Chinese by accepting non-USDollar payments for oil shipments, then the Petro-Dollar is dead and buried. The rise of the Nat Gas Coop run by Gazprom is in progress, its gas pipelines to strangle the OPEC and its bastard Petro-Dollar child. The entire USDollar foundation with the USTreasury Bond bank reserve structure is at risk is collapsing, as consequence to the desperate adventure and criminal activity conducted in Ukraine. – Silver Doctors

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MOXNEWSd0tC0M MOXNEWSd0tC0M

 

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Revealed: The forgotten treaty which could drag the US and UK into WAR with Russia if Putin’s troops intervene in Ukraine

 

  • The agreement sees signatories promise to protect Ukraine’s borders
  • It was signed by Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma in 1994
  • Ukrainian parliament has now reached out directly to all the countries who signed the treaty
  • Putin currently has 150,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders and it is reported some have crossed into the country
  • President Obama says he is ‘deeply concerned’ by the news
  • The US and Britain have both made ‘crisis calls’ to President Putin to warn him to respect territorial boundaries

 

By Jill Reilly and Lizzie Edmonds

 

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A treaty signed in 1994 by the US and Britain could pull both countries into a war to protect Ukraine if President Putin’s troops cross into the country.

Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine – agreed to the The Budapest Memorandum as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Technically it means that if Russia has invaded Ukraine then it would be difficult for the US and Britain to avoid going to war.

The revelation comes as reports suggest the Kremlin was moving up to 2,000 troops across the Black Sea from Novorossiysk to their fleet base at Sevastopol.

At least 20 men wearing the uniform of the Russian fleet and carrying automatic rifles surrounded a Ukrainian border guard post in a standoff near the port yesterday.

 

The Budapest Memorandum was signed in 1991 by Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma - the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine. It promises to protect Ukraine's borders, in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons

The Budapest Memorandum was signed in 1991 by Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine. It promises to protect Ukraine’s borders, in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons

 

Last night it was still unclear the exact scale of Russian boots on the ground in Crimea or the identity of gunmen who have taken over airports in Simferopol and Sevastopol – though reports suggest they are Russian marines or Moscow- controlled militias.

The action came as President Obama delivered blunt warnings to Moscow.

‘We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine,’ he told reporters at the White House.

‘Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing,’ he said in a brief appearance.

‘The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.’

U.S. officials also said the President could scrap plans to attend an international summit in Russia and take negotiations on deepening trade ties with the country off the table in response to Russian involvement in the Ukraine.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel added: “This could be a very dangerous situation if this continues in a provocative way.”

Asked about options in a CBS News interview, he said that “We’re trying to deal with a diplomatic focus, that’s the appropriate, responsible approach.”

Both the U.S. and the UK are advising against all non-essential trips to Ukraine – especially Crimea.

former British Ambassador to Moscow Sir Tony Brenton, who served as British Ambassador from 2004 to 2008, said in an interview that war could be an option 'if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding.'

former British Ambassador to Moscow Sir Tony Brenton, who served as British Ambassador from 2004 to 2008, said in an interview that war could be an option ‘if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding.’

NATO also asked Russia not to take action that could escalate tension. However Moscow responded by telling the organization to ‘refrain’ from provocative statements on Ukraine and respect its ‘non-bloc’ status.

Sir Tony Brenton, who served as British Ambassador from 2004 to 2008, said that war could be an option ‘if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding.’

It promises to protect Ukraine’s borders, in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons.

Kiev has demanded the agreement is activated after insisting their borders had been violated.

 

 

In response Mr Brenton said in a BBC radio interview: ‘If indeed this is a Russian invasion of Crimea and if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding then it’s very difficult to avoid the conclusion that we’re going to go to war with Russia’.

Ukraine accused Russia of a ‘military invasion and occupation’, saying Russian troops have taken up positions around a coast guard base and two airports on its strategic Crimea peninsula.

Russia kept silent on the accusations, as the crisis deepened between two of Europe’s largest countries.

 

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Published time: March 01, 2014 19:52

People walk in front of unidentified armed men patroling near the Simferopol airport on February 28, 2014 (AFP Photo / Genya Savilov)

People walk in front of unidentified armed men patroling near the Simferopol airport on February 28, 2014 (AFP Photo / Genya Savilov)

Russian migration authorities report a huge spike in requests coming from Ukrainians to seek asylum in Russia, as some 143,000 people filed documents in just two weeks. Officials vow to process the requests in shortest possible time.

“Tragic events in Ukraine have caused a sharp spike in requests coming from this country seeking asylum in Russia,” said chief of citizenship desk Valentina Kazakova. “We monitor figures daily and they are far from comforting. Over the last two weeks of February, some 143,000 people applied.”

Kazakova said most requests come from the bordering areas and especially from Ukraine’s south.

“People are lost, scared and depressed,” she said. “There are many requests from law enforcement services, state officials as they are wary of possible lynching on behalf of radicalized armed groups.”

Relatives residing within Russia have been urging officials to process the requests in the shortest possible time. Officials say that though each request will be treated individually, all such addresses will be handled as soon as possible.

 

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Huge crowd of Palestinians is photographed waiting for aid in Yarmouk, which has been under blockade for month

Click here to see the full picture

 

 

Yarmouk refugee camp

Refugees queue for food parcels in Yarmouk. Photograph: Handout/Reuters

 

 

It is a vision of unimaginable desolation: a crowd of men, women and children stretching as far as the eye can see into the war-devastated landscape of Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus.

A photograph released on Wednesday by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, shows the scene when thousands of desperate Palestinians trapped inside the camp on the edge of the Syrian capital emerged to besiege aid workers attempting to distribute food parcels.

More than 18,000 people are existing under blockade inside Yarmouk, enduring acute shortages of food, medicines and other essentials. Much of the camp has been destroyed by shelling, and attempts to deliver aid to those inside have been hampered by continued fighting in Syria‘s three-year-old civil war.

United Nations workers have delivered about 7,000 food parcels over recent weeks, following negotiations between the Syrian government, rebel forces and Palestinian factions within the camp. The most recent delivery, of 450 parcels, was on Wednesday. The UN acknowledges that the level of aid is a “drop in the ocean”.

Yarmouk has been cut off since last July. Many residents are now weak and severely malnourished, as well as being exposed to the risk of disease, or death and injury from fighting.

Filippo Grandi, the head of UNRWA, described the camp as a ghost town after visiting this week. “The devastation is unbelievable. There is not one single building that I have seen that is not an empty shell by now. They’re all blackened by smoke,” he told reporters.

He said he was even more shocked by the camp’s residents, who flooded towards aid distribution points. “It’s like the appearance of ghosts. These are people who have not been out of there, that have been trapped in there not only without food, medicines, clean water – all the basics – but also probably completely subjected to fear because there was fierce fighting … They can hardly speak. I tried to speak to many of them, and they all tell the same stories of complete deprivation.”

 

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UN chief ‘deeply disturbed’ by refugee camp in Syria

The chief of the UN relief agency supporting Palestinian refugees said he is “deeply disturbed and shaken” by the despair and destruction he had seen in a besieged camp in the Syrian capital.

The Yarmouk refugee camp, located in southern Damascus, is an opposition enclave under the tight blockade of forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.

More than 100 people have died in Yarmouk since mid-2013 as a result of starvation and illnesses exacerbated by hunger or lack of medical aid, according to UN figures.

Filippo Grandi, commissioner general of UNRWA, was visiting Yarmouk as the relief agency resumed food distribution there. Shipments to the camp have been disrupted for months, sometimes cut off for weeks at a time, and Yarmouk has suffered from crippling shortages of food and medicine.

“I am deeply disturbed and shaken by what I observed,” Grandi said. Palestinian refugees to whom he spoke in Yarmouk were “traumatised by what they have lived through.”

The extent of damage to the refugees’ homes was shocking, he also said, adding that many Palestinians in Yarmouk need immediate support, particularly food and medical treatment.

Yarmouk is the largest of nine Palestinian camps in Syria. Since the camp’s creation in 1957, it has evolved into a densely populated residential district just five miles from the centre of Damascus. Several generations of Palestinian refugees have lived there.

 

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Palestinians in Syrian camp are ‘traumatized’

 

More than 100 people have died in Yarmouk since mid-2013, some of starvation

 

    • ap
    • Published: 16:25 February 25, 2014
    • Gulf News

 

 

Damascus: The chief of the United Nations relief agency supporting Palestinian refugees said on Tuesday he is “deeply disturbed and shaken” by the despair and destruction he’d seen in a besieged camp in the Syrian capital.

 

The Yarmouk refugee camp, located in southern Damascus, is an opposition enclave under the tight blockade of forces loyal to President Bashar Al Assad. More than 100 people have died in Yarmouk since mid-2013 as a result of starvation and illnesses exacerbated by hunger or lack of medical aid, according to UN figures.

 

Filippo Grandi, the Commissioner General of UNRWA, was visiting Yarmouk as the relief agency resumed food distribution there. UNRWA shipments to the camp have been disrupted for months, sometimes cut off for weeks at a time, and Yarmouk has suffered from crippling shortages of food and medicine.

 

“I am deeply disturbed and shaken by what I observed,” Grandi said in a statement. Palestinian refugees to whom he spoke in Yarmouk Monday were “traumatized by what they have lived through.”

 

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