Archive for Ukraine
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has denied reports of a number of CIA agents allegedly killed in clashes between forces loyal to the Kiev authorities and self-defense units in eastern Ukraine. A CIA official claimed on the official Twitter page of the US embassy in Berlin that no such incidents had taken place and that allegations by pro-Russian activists did not correspond to reality. Earlier, the People’s Mayor of Slavyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, announced that Kiev-controlled law troops and law enforcers had sustained heavy losses during a so-called “counterterrorist” operation in the east of the country. At least 650 servicemen were killed, wounded or taken prisoner in the past ten 10 days, he said. There are 70 foreigners among them and of those 13 agents of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and CIA were killed and 12 others were wounded, Ponomaryov told reporters.
Michael McFaul, who served as President Obama’s ambassador to Moscow until February, has warned that the Ukraine crisis is approaching a state of war that could trigger a large scale invasion by Russian military forces. “The last 24 hours was a major escalation,” McFaul told TIME in a Friday interview, as Ukraine’s military began an operation to reclaim eastern cities and towns taken over by pro-Russia militants. The offensive has led to violence, including reports that Ukrainian helicopters were shot down by pro-Russian forces. Brewing violence in the southern port city of Odessa also claimed dozens of lives Friday. “This is real,” McFaul said. “This is war.” Amid reports that pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are urging Russia’s military to intervene on their behalf, McFaul says he’s now reconsidering the widely-shared assumption that Russian President Vladimir Putin would prefer to destabilize Ukraine from a distance, without staging a cross-border invasion that would compel the west to take new retaliatory steps, possibly including arming the Ukrainian military. “It would be very costly for Russia to invade Ukraine,” McFaul said. “It’ll be real fight — maybe guerrilla warfare for years. That’s not something one does lightly. But it got a lot more likely in the last 12 hours.” Russia’s parliament has authorized Putin to intervene in Ukraine, though Putin said last month “I very much hope that I will not have to exercise this right.” But the larger picture remains bleak. The events of the past couple of days, McFaul said, “make me more worried than ever before.”
Russia urges to stop violence in Ukraine’s southeastern regions, Russian Permanent Representative at the United Nations Vitaly Churkin told journalists. “We shall urge to stop violence,” he said. According to his words, Kiev’s authorities have killed the last hope for viability of the Geneva accords of April 17 on the crisis settlement in Ukraine. “The Kiev regime, encouraged by its Western sponsors, has resorted to a large-scale use of military force, actually killing the last hope for viability of the Geneva accords,” he said at an extraordinary meeting of the United Nations Security Council convened at Russia’s initiative over the punitive operation staged by the Ukrainian authorities in the southeast Ukraine.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has denied claims that the United States could have been involved in the actions of snipers during mass riots in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on February 20.
The top U.S. and Russian diplomats agreed Sunday to work with Ukrainian government officials to ease the crisis triggered by Russia’s annexation of Crimea, but remained far apart on other key points after four hours of negotiations in Paris. Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the meeting constructive. Lavrov’s remarks suggested that Moscow may now be more willing to work with the interim Ukrainian government, which it has previously dismissed as illegitimate. Both men indicated that the discussions would include how to govern Ukraine, which is split between regions that tend to be pro-Western or pro-Russian. Lavrov demanded that the interim government in Kiev rewrite the constitution to allow provinces broad autonomy, but Kerry insisted that any such decisions could be made only by the Ukrainian authorities, who ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich one month ago. The U.S. diplomat also pushed for Russia to remove the 40,000 troops it has massed on Ukraine’s border, saying that “any solution” must involve a pullback. But Lavrov, who has contended that the forces are only conducting routine military exercises, showed no willingness to do so. The United States and Russia have been at odds since Russian troops seized, then annexed, the Ukrainian region of Crimea, where a majority of the population speaks Russian. Western governments fear that Moscow is seeking control over at least parts of Ukraine, a country that Russia has long viewed as part of its sphere of influence. U.S. officials have put forth a plan that calls for the disarming of private militias, the entry of international monitors to supervise treatment of minority groups and direct Ukrainian-Russian talks. Russia has been urging international negotiations to create a decentralized Ukrainian government, a move that could give powerful leverage to Moscow and Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the east who tend to favor ties with Russia.
Ukraine would not sever diplomatic relations with Armenia no matter how Yerevan voted at a UN General Assembly meeting on the Crimean referendum, Embassy official Igor Roman told journalists in Yerevan. Among a dozen other nations Armenia voted against the resolution that reaffirms Ukraine’s territorial integrity and calls the referendum in Crimea illegal. A hundred nations voted in favor of this non-binding document, with another 58 abstaining. By its vote Armenia, in fact, backed its main political and military ally Russia. At the press conference in Yerevan Roman said that Ukraine’s ambassador to Armenia, Ivan Kukhta would return to Yerevan next week to continue his duties. Kukhta was recalled by Kiev “for consultations” over the reference to the right of peoples to self-determination in the context of the Crimean referendum reportedly made by President Serzh Sargsyan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a March 19 telephone conversation.
Amb. Frank Isoh, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ukraine has said that Nigerians in Crimea will require a new residence permit to stay in that region which was recently absobed into Russia. Isoh put the number of Nigerians in Crimea at 240, out of which 175 are students studying medicine. He said that the Nigeria’s embassy in Russia would now be in charge of consular services of Nigerians in Crimea. Isoh, however, said that issues relating to passport registration would still be handled by the mission in Kiev. “For passport registration, the mission in Ukraine will still be contacted as it is one of the nation’s few embassies in Eastern Europe with passport issuing facility. So we will still attend to those with passport related concerns.” The envoy, however, restated that no Nigerian was attacked in the recent protest in Ukraine.
Ukraine has recalled its ambassador in Belarus, Mykhailo Yezhel, over Belarus’s stance on Crimea, Yevgen Perebiynis, director of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry information policy department, told a briefing. “Following a statement made by President Alexander Lukashenko, the Foreign Ministry (of Ukraine) has recalled the Ukrainian ambassador from Belarus for consultations and sent a note to the Belarusian side saying that the remarks of the Belarusian president were contradicting universally recognized norms of international law and the position of most countries of the world which condemned Russia’s actions,” Perebeinos stressed. Earlier, Lukashenko said that Belarus had recognized de facto that Crimea was part of Russia.
The Czech Embassy in Kiev has halted the project of marking tourist trails in Crimea as a result of the Ukrainian-Russian dispute over the peninsula. There are some 1,300 kilometers of trails in Crimea’s mountains. In the past, tourists often took a risk on them, because they could not rely on high-quality maps and marks. However, a few years ago, Czechs started to introduce their system of colorful tourist marking in Crimea. So far, they have managed to mark about a half of the trails in yellow, blue, red and green. It is not sure whether the Czech Embassy would be willing to keep funding the project after Crimea was annexed by Russia following a referendum. It will depend on the Russian conditions for foreigners’ entry to Crimea.
The Ugandan government said it will evacuate its citizens caught up in the political crisis in Ukraine. Fred Opolot, the ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson told Xinhua by telephone that the ministry of education plans to evacuate at least 80 citizens, mainly students. “The preparations are underway for the evacuation of our citizens caught up in the crisis in Ukraine if the current unrest escalates,” said Opolot. The evacuation plans come amidst growing tensions between Ukraine and Russia over Crimea, which voted overwhelming in the Sunday referendum to join Russia. Uganda’s ambassador to Russia, Moses Ebuk on Monday told the state owned daily New Vision that the embassy has alerted all Ugandans in Ukraine to prepare for the evacuation incase the situation gets worse.