Police armed with truncheons, shields and a fire hose clashed with more than 100 left-wing activists who rallied at the U.S. Embassy in Manila on Wednesday to oppose a visit by President Barack Obama and an expected security pact that would increase the American military presence in the Philippines.
Some of the protesters carried paper U.S. flags with the message: “Obama not welcome.”
NY court: US must release targeted killings memo 21 Apr 2014 The U.S. government must publicly disclose in redacted form secret papers describing its legal justification for using drones to kill citizens suspected of terrorism overseas, because President Barack Obama and senior government officials have commented on the subject, a federal appeals court ruled Monday. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled in a Freedom of Information Act case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and two reporters for The New York Times. In 2011, they sought any documents in which Department of Justice lawyers had discussed the highly classified “targeted-killing” program.
21 Apr 2014 Dozens are reportedly dead in Yemen, including at least three civilians, as the result of a series of drone strikes that started in the southern part of the country on Saturday and is alleged to still be occurring two days later. By noontime in Washington, DC on Monday, the Associated Press reported that 55 Al-Qaeda [al-CIAduh] militants were among those that had been killed in an hours-long series of strikes that targeted a training camp operated by the group, according to Yemen’s interior ministry. The United States is alleged to have carried out the strikes using unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, but does not legally have to acknowledge any operations conducted by its Central Intelligence Agency and has not commented.
21 Apr 2014 The death toll from three days of air strikes carried out by US drones in southern Yemen has reached almost 50, reports say. On Monday, at least three people were killed after a US drone fired a missile at a vehicle carrying three men in the country’s southern province of Shabwa. According to witnesses, the vehicle was completely destroyed and the burnt remains of the bodies could be seen.
President took Marine One chopper to Andrews Air Force Base and will fly to Washington state and Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday
‘Earth Day is about taking action,’ the White House declared shortly after takeoff
Air Force One consumes 5 gallons of jet fuel for every mile it flies
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that burning the fuel emits 21.1 pounds of CO2 per gallon
Total presidential fuel consumption for Earth Day, not including automobile motorcades, is an estimated 35,609 gallons
President Barack Obama is marking the 44th Earth Day with a carbon-emitting extravaganza, spending more than 15 hours on Air Force One and 15 minutes aboard the Marine One helicopter.
Not including his motorcades in Oso, Washington, the site of a recent devastating mudslide, his trip will consume an estimated 35,565 gallons of fuel.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistics arm of the Department of Energy, burning each gallon emits 21.1 pounds of carbon dioxide, bringing the president’s Earth Day carbon footprint to more than 375.7 tons.
The White House did not respond to a question about any measures it might be taking – planting trees, for instance – to offset those emissions.
Boeing’s specifications for its 747 aircraft, which serves as Air Force One, include an estimate for fuel consumption of 5 gallons per mile. Tuesday’s presidential travel will span more than 7,100 miles over two continents.– more than one-quarter of the way around the earth.
Sikorsky, whose HV-3d Sea King helicopter flew Obama from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base, burns an additional 176.7 gallons of fuel per hour, requiring more than 44 gallons – about four times the size of a modern economy car’s fuel tank – for the estimated 15-minute trip.
A White House pool reporter noted that Marine One’ landing on the South Lawn of the White House ’caused a flurry of hundreds of tree flower petals.’
Mid-morning Tuesday, the White House issued a sweeping online essay calling for renewed awareness of threats from global warming.
‘Our health, our economy, our security, and our planet’s future are once again threatened by pollution and environmental degradation,’ the White House’s official blog claimed.
‘Our climate is changing, and that change is being driven by human activity. Every year, the United States pumps millions of tons of carbon dioxide pollution and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.’
‘Earth Day is about taking action,’ the White House declared.
Obama’s trip will have more than an environmental cost, draining $228,288 from the taxpayer-funded U.S. Treasury for every hour it’s in the air.
The Air Force’s estimate brings the president’s airfare to $3.47 million.
The United States ranks 12th in the world among all nations for per capita carbon dioxide emissions.
Obama is visiting the town of Oso, Washington, the site of a deadly March 22 mudslide. He will meet with victims’ families as well as first responders.
His trip to Tokyo will include a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and a visit with the nation’s emperor and empress.
Read more: Daily Mail
Opportunities for the West to hurt the Russian economy are limited, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday. Europe cannot stop buying Russian gas without inflicting pain on itself, and if the US tries to lower oil prices, the dollar will suffer.
If the West tries to damage Russia’s influence in the world energy market, efforts will likely backfire, the Russian President said during his twelfth annual televised question and answer session.
To really influence the world oil market a country would need to increase production and cut prices, which currently only Saudi Arabia could afford, Putin said.
The president added he didn’t expect Saudi Arabia, which has “very kind relations” with Russia, will choose to cut prices, that could also damage its own economy.
If world oil production increases, the price could go down to about $85 per barrel. “For us the price fall from $90 to $85 per barrel isn’t critical,” Putin said, adding that for Saudi Arabia it would be more sensitive.
Also the President said that being an OPEC member, Saudi Arabia would need to coordinate its action with the organization, which “is very complicated.”
Meanwhile, Russia supplies about a third of Europe’s energy needs, said Putin. Finland, for example, is close to Russia economically, as it receives 70 percent of its gas from Russia.
“Can Europe stop buying Russian gas? I think it’s impossible…Will they make themselves bleed? That’s hard to imagine,” the Russian president said.
Since oil is sold internationally on global markets cutting the price would mean lower dollar circulation, diminishing its value in the global currency market.
“If prices decrease in the global market, the emerging shale industry will die,” Putin said.
The US shale industry has boosted domestic production, but President said that the so-called “shale revolution” was expensive and not quick to come.
Russia’s economy largely relies on energy. In 2013 more than 50 percent of the national budget was funded by gas and oil revenues. The main revenue comes from oil, as last year, oil revenues reached $191 billion, and gas $28 billion.
“Oil and gas revenues are a big contribution to the Russian budget, a big part for us when we decide on our government programs, and of course, meeting our social obligations,” the president said.
(CNN) — Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 drastically changed course then soared to near its peak altitude, a senior Malaysian aviation source said — adding yet another wrinkle to the enigma of the plane’s last flight.
Before disappearing from radar screens on March 8, the commercial airliner deviated from its planned route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing by turning leftward over water while it was still inside Vietnamese airspace, the Malaysian aviation source told CNN’s Nic Robertson.
The aircraft then climbed to 39,000 feet, just short of the Boeing 777-200ER’s 41,000-foot safe operating limit, and maintained that altitude for about 20 minutes over the Malaysian Peninsula before beginning to descend, the source said.
Why? That and so much else — including where the plane is now — remains a mystery. Investigators have been trying for weeks to piece together bits of information trying to get the answers being demanded by relatives of the 239 people aboard the plane, not to mention millions more around the world who have been captivated by this ordeal.
In addition to this newly revealed development, investigators have determined that the missing jet was equipped with four emergency locator transmitters, or ELTs, which are designed to transmit a plane’s location to an emergency satellite when triggered by a crash or by contact with water, the source added.
Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The ELTs were at the plane’s front door, its rear door, in the fuselage and in the cockpit, said the source, who was puzzled over why they appear either not to have activated or, if they did activate, why they were not picked up by the satellite.
Relatives of the 239 passengers and crew have raised questions about the ELTs with Malaysian authorities, suggesting there were at least three aboard the plane, including two portable units and one fixed device.
No comment from Malaysia Airlines
Malaysia Airlines has declined to answer CNN’s questions about the ELTs and other matters pertaining to the flight, which vanished six weeks ago after taking off shortly after midnight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The airline said it could not comment on “any questions that relate to information held by other authorities and/or fall under the jurisdiction of the ongoing investigation. …”
Besides this probe, the plight has spurred an expansive, expensive search to find the aircraft.
That includes the dispatching of up to 11 military aircraft and 12 ships Saturday across three areas off Perth, Australia. They will cover about 20,000 square miles (50,000 square kilometers) and brave isolated showers, according to Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre.
There may not be much more of this, however. Officials have saidsearches from air and ships are probably nearing an end.
That doesn’t surprise former U.S. National Transportation Safety Board Managing Director Peter Goelz, given the results so far. “There’s a lot of resources being expended there; it’s turned up nothing,” he said.
But Goelz predicts the underwater phase of the search will continue for the six to eight weeks needed to cover the current search zone. If that turns up nothing, he predicted, towed array sonar probably would be used to search a wider zone.
“This is a very complex operation,” ocean search specialist Rob McCallum said. “It’s going to be a game of patience now.”
As of early Saturday, the underwater drone scouring the bottom of the Indian Ocean had taken six trips looking for the missing jetliner with a seventh mission then underway.The Joint Agency Coordination Centre said the Bluefin-21 search has covered about 50 square miles. While the information gleamed from the sixth trip was still being analyzed, the first five didn’t yield any breakthroughs.
Malaysia’s acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein tweeted Friday that authorities are looking at deploying more unmanned underwater probes.
Officials might consider searching along a large portion of sea highlighted by a partial digital “handshake” between the jetliner and an Inmarsat PLC satellite, said Martin Dolan, Australia’s top transport official.
That arc of sea is more than 370 miles long and 30 miles wide.
A prolonged undersea search by private contractors could cost a “ballpark rough estimate” of $234 million, said Dolan.
Passengers’ kin list questions
The continuing search efforts came as relatives of the people who were aboard the jetliner pressed for answers.
They have drawn up 26 questions that they want addressed by Malaysian officials, who are to meet with them next week in Beijing. Most of the Flight 370 passengers and crew were Chinese.
Among their questions: What’s in the flight’s log book? Can they review the jet’s maintenance records? Can they listen to recordings of the Boeing 777 pilot’s conversations with air traffic controllers just before contact was lost?
Hishammuddin has defended his government’s handling of the operation and accused members of the news media of focusing on the Chinese families. He said relatives of passengers and crew from other nations represented have not had problems.
“The most difficult part of any investigation of this nature is having to deal with the families,” he said.
Lack of progress angers Chinese families
Lack of progress angers Chinese families
Underwater drone aborts first mission
How hard is it to find a black box?
Renewed focus on MH370 pilot’s phone
Searches for Titanic and MH370 similar
MH370 partner: They’re still alive
Clues from possible debris scenarios
Security threat reported on Detroit-Denver Delta flight 18 Apr 2014 A Delta Airlines flight that landed at a Denver airport was directed to a remote taxiway after an unspecified “potential security threat” onboard and passengers were ushered off the plane, interviewed and the scene secured, officials said. Flight 1500, a Boeing 737 with 151 passengers and six crew, landed roughly on time at Denver International Airport from Detroit Metropolitan Airport at about 4:40 p.m. Mountain Time (2240 GMT), airline spokesman Russell Cason said. The passengers were quickly sent off the plane without their luggage and taken by bused to a separate part of the airport where they were being interviewed by FBI officials.
President Obama is heading to the Asia-Pacific next week to try and build support for a massive “trade deal” that is central to his economic agenda and America’s strategic pivot toward the region.
The White House is intensifying efforts to wrap up the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would expand trade from the Pacific Rim to Latin America, but is struggling to break a stalemate with Japan over market access. The pact is also facing staunch opposition from congressional Democrats.Obama is looking to build momentum for the deal during a four-nation Asia trip.
The key meetings will come Wednesday and Thursday, when Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to review the status of outstanding negotiating issues in Japan’s sensitive auto and agricultural sectors.
The president is expected to underscore the importance of Japan’s participation in the TPP for both economies while reminding Tokyo of its commitment to refrain from slowing down the talks or reopening closed issues, a senior administration official told reporters on Friday.
Susan Rice, the president’s national security adviser, said negotiators have made a great deal of progress over the last few months on the trade deal “and we expect very much that the president’s travels and our continued work in the coming weeks and months on TPP will continue to yield progress.”
“We expect that as a result of that, we will be able to conclude an agreement,” she said.
Trade analysts don’t expect Obama to single-handedly break the logjam between Tokyo and Washington, but they are hoping a dose of diplomacy will propel the negotiations forward.
“We expect them to come out and say that, ‘We see a way forward and we’re very optimistic in getting this done as quickly as possible,’ ” said Tami Overby, vice president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“We have an opportunity to take full advantage of these meetings and we hope that our Japanese friends do that, too,” she said.
A bilateral deal between the U.S. and Japan, which is being worked out on a parallel track with TPP, could boost the chances of completing the trade deal.
Even though negotiations have been a heavy lift, Obama won’t have a hard time persuading Abe, who hopes that completion of the TPP can revive Japan’s sluggish economy.
A senior administration official said Friday that Abe wants to strike a deal, and that the hardest part for Japan and its negotiators is to take a massive step into a realm where Tokyo has never gone before.
Meanwhile, Abe has struggled to convince politically powerful farming co-ops that the agricultural sector needs a structural overhaul and that tariffs can be dropped on five “sacred” agricultural areas: rice, meat, wheat, dairy and sugar.
“They are really trying to move forward in a way that allow them to do this,” said Jim Fatheree, president of the U.S.-Japan Business Council at the Chamber.
“We’re the ones everyone is looking at to break through the current logjam,” he said.
Fatheree said Abe is trying to “thread a needle” in support of Tokyo’s long-term economic interests.
The trip also weighs heavily on the president’s hopes of gaining congressional support for his trade agenda.
During a brief side meeting at The Hague last month, Obama and Abe agreed to accelerate TPP talks, Fatheree said.
There has been no expectation that a deal could be ready in time for the Obama-Abe meetings, and chief negotiators were already scheduled to meet next month in Vietnam to continue talks.
“At this critical juncture the U.S. government can ill afford to let the TPP talks stall,” said Mireya Solis, a senior fellow at the Brookings Center for East Asia Policy Studies, in a blog post this week.
Ahead of next week’s summit, discussions between top trade officials have continued in earnest.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman recently traveled to Japan, and he and Akira Amari, Japan’s minister for economic and fiscal policy, wrapped up another round of talks on Friday in Washington.
The USTR’s office called the discussions “focused but difficult,” but said negotiations yielded more progress “and we are now faced with a reasonable number of outstanding issues.”
“These issues are important to both sides and considerable differences remain,” the statement said.
The goal is to continue peeling away the layers of Japanese protections on their agriculture and auto sectors to achieve meaningful market access, a senior administration official said of the TPP negotiations.
Obama will spend three days in Japan on the state visit — a situation where more pomp and circumstance is required — giving top government officials a chance to tout the relationship between Washington and Tokyo.
Obama’s swing through the Asia-Pacific includes stops in Malaysia, another TPP nation, as well as South Korea and the Philippines, each of which have expressed interesting in eventually joining the TPP.
Congress approved a free trade agreement with Korea in 2011.
Critics of the Obama administration’s trade agenda say that TPP talks are floundering, putting the United States into a position to cave on high-priority issues such as tariff elimination that would open up Japan’s tightly controlled markets.
“As the conventional wisdom goes, if Japan and the United States can sort out market access issues, agriculture, automobiles, then this massive trade deal can at last be concluded,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), one of the pact’s leading opponents.
“This is not really the case. What the argument obscures is that TPP negotiators are grappling with many seemingly intractable problems,” she said.
Dozens of army troops sent to the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk for an “anti-terrorist operation” refused to follow orders and surrendered their weapons and armored vehicles. Some troops openly voiced support for the eastern Ukrainians.
According to Interfax, citing local self-defense activists, some 300 Ukrainian troops agreed to lay down their weapons and “go home” following negotiations in Slavyansk.
“We managed to negotiate with them. About 300 military – only some of those who closed around the city – decided to lay down their arms and go home,” a self-defense activist was quoted as saying.
Reports from the scene said that the locals would not allow the soldiers to take back the APCs, but they were allowed to keep their rifles. The people were cheering the troops.
Meanwhile, the anti-government activists guarding the armored vehicles have said that they did not“seize” them as the media claimed, and that the troops “switched sides” peacefully. “They were not seized by the self-defense forces. In fact, the Ukrainian troops arrived here flying a Russian flag. In this way, they have taken the side of the people,” a Slavyansk activist told Russia-24 TV.
A Ukrainian soldier interviewed by RIA Novosti in Slavyansk said the troops were told they are being sent against “Russian invaders who have taken the local population hostage and are waging war at us,”and that they must “free Donbas from occupants.”“This morning, we started our attack, but the picture we saw in Kramatorsk turned out to be completely different. We saw in front of us a crowd of locals, mostly adults, women and men. They explained to us that there are no occupants here and there is no one to fight. Instead, they gave us food and talked to us,” the soldier was quoted as saying. He added that the troops vowed “not to follow orders to shoot at these people.” Some soldiers chose to take the side of the locals, some decided to stay “neutral.” They are now “waiting what comes next.”
Similar developments were also seen in another Donetsk region city, Kramatorsk, where Ukrainian troops began entering Tuesday after taking a nearby airfield by force, captured a day earlier by armed self-defense activists.
As Ukrainian armored vehicles rolled into the city’s center Wednesday, they were surrounded by locals and surrendered. Some of the APCs were filmed flying Russian flags in support of the locals. Kiev eventually confirmed that six APCs were taken away in Kramatorsk but claimed that they were “captured by the extremists.” Earlier, coup-imposed Kiev officials dismissed the news as “fake” and even claimed that by raising Russian flags the troops “infiltrated” the areas “controlled by Russian Army units and separatists.” In the village of Pchyolkino, south of Kramatorsk, locals blocked part of a large convoy of armored vehicles. The people are demanding that the troops turn back their vehicles and leave for Dnepropetrovsk, where they are stationed.
Pchyolkino residents negotiated with the blocked troops peacefully and also brought drinks and food to the “exhausted” soldiers, vp.donetsk.ua reported from the scene. “They’ve had us running around for about two months now. We’re being sent to one city, then to the next. We cannot even wash, or eat normally or rest,” one of the troops was quoted as saying.
RT’s Ruptly agency also spoke with Ukrainian soldiers in Kramatorsk. According to Ruptly’s Monika Kalinowska, the soldiers blamed the media for giving “fake information” and “creating unnecessary tension.” One of the soldiers told Kalinowska that he found “no aggression” coming from the eastern Ukrainians, except for cases of few “drunks” approaching them with questions.
However, not all the Ukrainian troops were ready to surrender and side with the locals blocking their way. A video by Ustream user Russian_Donetsk_2 shows a Ukrainian soldier threatening civilians who attempted to step in the way of a convoy of APCs near Kramatorsk by holding a grenade. The people surrounding the vehicles can be heard jeering the soldier. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian media has been quoting some of the troops sent to eastern Ukraine as saying they will “never surrender” to pro-Russian activists.
In a separate incident near Kramatorsk, a car attempting to block the military convoy’s way was rammed and severely damaged by an APC. The driver managed to escape the vehicle unharmed.
Several accounts of shooting were described in reports coming from the area later on Wednesday. Three people were injured after Ukrainian troops heading for Kramatorsk airfield in armored vehicles fired at a car attempting to block their way near Pchyolkino, RIA Novosti reported citing anti-government activists.
‘Who are you at war with?’
While clearly not in favor of tanks driving through the streets of their cities, the eastern Ukrainians have particularly been disgruntled by the term “anti-terrorist operation” used by the Kiev authorities to describe the crackdown on dissent in the region.
Slavyansk activist Natalya Vetlich told RT that the locals are puzzled by the military operation launched by Kiev, because there are no “terrorists” there.
“Today, Ukrainian troops sided with the people – the troops that were sent to our city to suppress ‘terrorism.’ We do not see any terrorism in our city. This means, they have been sent to fight with peaceful civilians, with women and children… to fire at those women and elderly people who have gathered on the city’s square,” Vetlich said.
According to the activist, the locals cheered and saw off the troops hoisting Russian flags as heroes – but first they had to give them some food.
“Before we had chance to talk with the boys, we had to feed them. It is because they threw those boys at us like kittens, to fire at us, but forgot to even provide them with food,” the activist said, adding that in Kramatorsk the situation was practically the same.
Vetlich said that a recent statement from Kiev that particularly insulted the locals and was laughed at was made by senior Batkivshchyna party official Sergey Sobolev. Citing coup-imposed acting Defense Minister Mikhail Koval, Sobolev claimed that Ukrainian troops raising Russian flags in fact made a“breakthrough” by “infiltrating separatists” and called the ongoing operation a “guerilla warfare.”
“Who are you at war with? With which terrorists? This whole ‘anti-terrorist’ operation does not make any sense to us,” Vetlich said.
According to Vetlich, Slavyansk residents are still concerned with the recent developments, because a group of “about 14 men dressed in black military clothing” fired at and passed a checkpoint set up by the local militia. The group then apparently “changed clothes,” mixing with civilians. Slavyansk activists are now expecting “provocations” from unidentified gunmen, Vetlich said.
More than 2,300 tubes containing samples of the potentially deadly SARS virus have gone “missing” from a high-security laboratory at the Pasteur Institute in Paris.
The research body insists there is no cause for alarm as the samples have “no infectious potential”, but it has filed a complaint against “persons unknown” in an attempt to resolve the mysterious disappearance.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, is a contagious respiratory illness that first appeared in China in November 2002, when it killed 775 people and infected around 8,000. There has been no known transmission of SARS anywhere in the world since 2004.
During a recent inventory researchers at the Pasteur Institute, which was among the first to isolate HIVin the 1980s, discovered they had lost some 2,349 vials containing samples of the SARS virus.
Unable to locate the samples, the body called in France’s drug and health safety agency, to help with the search.
Inspectors from the Agence nationals de sécurité du medicament et des products de santé conducted a four-days “in depth” investigation from April 4th-12th but have so far been unable to resolve the mystery.
Experts said the risk of infection from the missing vials was “nil” as they only contained harmless, incomplete parts of the virus, even if these come into contact with humans or are inhaled. (ALLEGEDLY! They obviously do not want to cause a panic!)
But Christian Bréchot, director general of the institute, said their disappearance was “unacceptable and incredible” and has filed a legal complaint. (what else has gone “missing” – how long will it take to figure that out?)
The vials were kept in 29 boxes in a refrigerator in a high-security laboratory known as P3 in which highly dangerous and infectious viruses are stored.
During an inventory in January all the boxes were found to be missing.
“We looked for the boxes everywhere,” Mr Bréchot told Le Monde. “We went through the lists of all the people who have worked here for the past year and a half, including interns. We analysed their profiles to check there was no conflict of interest,” he said.
He estimated the chances that the virus had been stolen for malevolent purposes as “highly unlikely”, because only a handful of staff are authorised to enter the P3 laboratory and the most dangerous tubes are cryptically labelled so as to be unintelligible to outsiders. (They might’ve said this about the ANTHRAX that allegedly escaped from Fort Detrick!)
Anyone leaving the laboratory has to pass through a disinfection zone, which would have killed off any virus.
Mr Bréchot said one possible explanation could be that all 2,349 tubes were “inadvertently destroyed” while being transferred to another refrigerator in 2012 when the one they were originally in malfunctioned.
But he said the research institute “must envisage all possibilities”.
The French medical safety body, ANSM, is due to release a report identifying any safety lapses and making recommendations to ensure such a worrying disappearance never happens again.
US MILITARY ASSETS in the Black Sea are on high alert amid reports Ukraine troops traded gunfire Tuesday with pro-Russian militants.
A journalist with Associated Press reported intense gunfire at an airport in eastern Ukraine after the government sent in army troops to retake control from militiamen loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The mayor of Kramatorsk told the Associated Press that Ukrainian troops have now occupied the military airport and are blocking its entrance.
The action comes a day after the revelation a Russian fighter jetted buzzed a U.S.S. destroyer multiple times over the Black Sea.
Russia declared Ukraine on the brink of civil war, and Kiev said an “anti-terrorist operation” against pro-Moscow separatists was under way, with troops and armored personnel carriers seen near a flashpoint eastern town.
Twenty-four hours after an Ukrainian ultimatum expired for the rebels to lay down their arms, witnesses however saw no signs yet that Ukraine’s forces were about to storm state buildings in the Russian-speaking east that armed militants have occupied.
Interim President Oleksander Turchinov insisted the operation had started in the eastern Donetsk region, although it would happen in stages and “in a considered way.”
“It will be conducted step by step, responsibly, cautiously,” he said. “The aim of these actions is to protect the citizens of Ukraine, to stop terror, to stop criminality, to stop attempts to tear Ukraine to pieces.”
The pro-Russian mayor of Slaviansk claimed Tuesday that a Ukrainian military convoy including troops and armored vehicles had now surrounded the town, Russian state news agency ITAR-Tass reported.
“If they try to move in, we will have to stop them,” the acting mayor said, according to the news agency.
Amidst the deepest East-West crisis since the Cold War, Mr. Putin and President Obama spoke by phone Monday and called on each other to do all in their power to avoid further bloodshed.
The standoff has raised fears that Moscow might turn off gas supplies to Kiev, disrupting flows to the European Union. Russian exporter Gazprom promised it would remain a reliable supplier to the EU, but German energy company RWE began deliveries to Ukraine on Tuesday – reversing the usual east-west flow in one central European pipeline.
— This article is based in part on wire service reports.
The images, some of them colored and some black and white, appear to show multiple Russian tanks, helicopters, fighter jets and a “special forces brigade” with locations and dates added to them. The dates marked range from March 22 to March 27, 2014.
10 Apr 2014 The satellite images released by NATO that allegedly show a current build-up of Russian troops near Ukrainian border were taken in August 2013 amid military drills, a source in the General Staff of the Russian Army has said. NATO’s top military commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, on Wednesday claimed that there is evidence of what he says are 40,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, tweeting a link to satellite images. There is one problem, though: the images were taken some eight months before the stated date, the source said. “These shots, which were distributed by NATO, show Russian Armed Forces units of the Southern Military District, which in the summer of last year were taking part in various drills, including near the Ukrainian border,” the General Staff official told RIA Novosti.
12 Apr 2014 Four fully armed RAF Typhoon jets are to patrol the skies over the Baltic in a dramatic show of strength intended to warn Russian President Vladimir Putin against mounting an invasion. The sorties will begin next month, with UK pilots under orders to respond forcefully to any violations of the airspace of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The four Typhoons will be based at Siauliai in Lithuania where they will join a detachment of four Polish MiG-29s. The Danish Air Force is providing four F-16 aircraft.
13 Apr 2014 Ukraine is a foot in the door to civil war, ousted President Viktor Yanukovich said in his address from Rostov-on-Don, where he has been residing for over a month after fleeing Kiev amid protests. “Blood was spilt today,” Yanukovich told journalists referring to the events in the eastern city of Slavyansk. “Now our country finds itself in a totally new situation – with one foot in the door of a civil war. The Kiev junta has issued a criminal order to use armed forces and the army against the protesters.” Part of the responsibility for dragging the country into domestic war lays on the US, which brutally interfere in the situation and to point out what to do, Yanukovich said. The ousted president declared that CIA director John Brennan visited Ukraine and it was after the meeting that the coup-imposed authorities in Kiev ordered a military operation in the country’s east.
13 Apr 2014 Thousands of pro-autonomy demonstrators rallied across eastern Ukraine, with the coup-imposed president in Kiev threatening to use military against the activists if they don’t clear the seized government buildings by Monday morning. Over 10,000 people have taken part in protests in different town and villages of the Donetsk Region in Ukraine, the local administration said. In the region’s capital, Donetsk, the local government headquarters still remain under the anti-Maidan activists’ control.
12 Apr 2014 Armed men have seized a police department in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Saturday, the latest public building to be taken over in the east as Pro-Russian protesters stand off against Kiev. “Armed men in camouflage uniforms seized the police department in Slaviansk. The response will be very tough because there is a difference between protesters and terrorists,” Avakov wrote, via social media. A local police spokesman told Reuters the men had not made any demands, but did not give any details on their identity.
11 Apr 2014 Russia’s Foreign Ministry is warning that Russians should refrain from traveling abroad because they could be entrapped by US secret services who are actively “hunting” for Russians to persecute in punishment for Moscow’s recent annexation reunification of Crimea, according to an official notice published on the Ministry’s website. It says the US, which “unreasonably” refuses to accept the reunification of Russia and Crimea, is seeking revenge by “trying to make a routine practice of ‘hunting’ for Russian citizens in third countries with the goal of extraditing them to the US, where they will be convicted [and jailed] on what are usually doubtful charges.” And it adds that “justice in America” is biased against Russians, who can be “kidnapped” [think CIA and extraordinary rendition] and taken to the US without even notifying Russian consular officials about what is happening.