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Ukraine crisis. News in brief. Wednesday 15 February. [Ukrainian sources]

on Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:23 am
WEDNESDAY

Please scroll to view news items added during the day.

NEWS:
US must be ready to counter Russian nuclear doctrine, - Senator McCain.  UN fears escalation of hostilities in Donbas.  "DPR" militants confirmed 41 mercenaries dead since Feb. 3.  Tillerson, Lavrov to hold first meeting on sidelines of G20 foreign ministers's gathering.  Russian special forces brag of seizing Crimea under guise of local residents. VIDEO.  New video published in Maidan massacre case. VIDEO.

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US must be ready to counter Russian nuclear doctrine, - Senator McCain

on Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:25 am
US must be ready to counter Russian nuclear doctrine, - Senator McCain

Russia’s deployment of nuclear-tipped ground-launched cruise missiles is a significant military threat to U.S. forces in Europe.

This was announced by U.S. Senator John McCain on his website, Censor.NET reports.

"As Vladimir Putin continues his testing of the new administration, Russia's deployment of nuclear-tipped ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the INF Treaty is a significant military threat to U.S. forces in Europe and our NATO allies," the senator wrote in a statement on Russia's deployment of nuclear-tipped ground-launched cruise missiles in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

"Congress has made clear in the last two defense authorization bills that Russia's treaty violation requires a meaningful response. In light of the most recent developments, it is time for the new administration to take immediate action to enhance our deterrent posture in Europe and protect our allies. More broadly, we must continue the ongoing modernization of U.S. nuclear forces and ensure that NATO's nuclear deterrence forces are survivable, well-exercised, and increasingly ready to counter Russian nuclear doctrine, which calls for the first use of nuclear weapons," McCain said.

ua.censor.net.ua, In Ukrainian / на українській мові


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UN fears escalation of hostilities in Donbas

on Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:27 am
UN fears escalation of hostilities in Donbas

Such apprehensions are caused by the shrinking distance between Ukrainian positions and those of separatists.

This was announced by U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine Neil Walker, Censor.NET reports.

The situation in eastern Ukraine is actually quite serious, he said, adding a new escalation might occur any time despite a relative lull observed at the moment.

He noted such concerns are caused by "the approximation of fighting forces, armed separatists in the east and government troops."

"And they are now face to face. You also have an increased presence of heavy weapons directly in violation of the Minsk accord," the official added.

Walker recalled that the previous outbreak of violence near the towns of Avdiivka, Yasynuvata, Makiivka and Donetsk resulted in more than 30,000 cease-fire violations in a week or so, compared to less than 30,000 over the course of a month.

Many houses were obliterated in the fighting, the diplomat said, adding that the destruction of critical infrastructure facilities left locals without heating and water.

ua.censor.net.ua , In Ukrainian / на українській мові


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"DPR" militants confirmed 41 mercenaries dead since Feb. 3

on Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:29 am
"DPR" militants confirmed 41 mercenaries dead since Feb. 3

Several sources say up to 70 "DPR" militants were killed in fighting in 2017, most of them in Avdiivka area.

Censor.NET's Chief Editor Yurii Butusov wrote on his Facebook page.

"New information on losses of the 1st army corps of the Russian occupation troops in the Donbas. As announced by representative of "DPR's operative command" Eduard Basurin, "45 people died since Feb. 3 escalation, four of them civilians. It means that this detachment has lost 41 mercenary. Earlier, the enemy did not provide such numbers, the information was classified," Butusov wrote.

Butusov says that the following conclusions could also be made.

"The fighting in Avdiivka started not on Feb. 3, but on Jan. 29, and grave losses in combat began back then. Despite the ban to publish their losses, Russian sourced announced numerous killings between Jan. 29 and Feb. 3 for the 1st army corps, including commander of the 3rd battalion of the 11th motorized rifle regiment Ivan Balakay, as well as four mercenaries of Somali assault battalion.

"Bodies of many mercenaries of the 11th regiment were abandoned by the enemy on the battlefield, as reported by terrorist Khodakovsky - this speaks to the fact there was chaos and panic. All these grave losses that we can't even identify in numbers are probably not fewer than Ukrainian, and given the abandoned bodies - even higher," Butusov wrote.

He also mentioned the 2nd army corps of the occupants, where first deputy of the "LPR" commander Oleg Anashchenko was blown up in Luhansk. However, their losses have not been published.

"Judging from social media reports, the enemy losses in combat in 2017 were at least 70 militants killed of the 1st corps of the "DPR." Most of the losses were incurred by the enemy in Avdiivka fighting between Jan. 29 - Feb. 8. Fewer losses of at least 10 people were incurred by the units of the 2nd corps in January-February,"

ua.censor.net.ua, In Ukrainian / на українській мові


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Tillerson, Lavrov to hold first meeting on sidelines of G20 foreign ministers's gathering

on Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:31 am
Tillerson, Lavrov to hold first meeting on sidelines of G20 foreign ministers's gathering

The situation in Syria is likely to be the key topic of the meeting.

A meeting is planned between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of a gathering of G20 foreign ministers in Germany, Censor.NET reports citing Reuters quoting Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

"A meeting is planned and being worked out," she said at a news briefing.

As reported, Zakharova did not say what Lavrov and Tillerson planned to address in their meeting, but earlier comments from the Foreign Ministry suggested Syria would be a topic of discussion.

It will be the first time Lavrov meets his newly appointed counterpart following the election of U.S. President Donald Trump.

ua.censor.net.ua, In Ukrainian / на українській мові


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Russian special forces brag of seizing Crimea under guise of local residents. VIDEO

on Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:33 am
Russian special forces brag of seizing Crimea under guise of local residents. VIDEO

TV network Zvezda, which is owned by the Russian Ministry of Defense, in its program of March 22, 2015 unveils the details of a special operation by the Russian military to seize Ukrainian Crimea.

As reported by Censor.NET, Russian propagandists do not hesitate to call "little green men" soldiers of the Russian army, when it comes, for example, to the proclamation of Special Operations Forces Day in Russia.

"These Russian soldiers, let's say, have earned their own professional holiday with their hands. The president signed a decree to make Feb. 27 Special Operations Forces Day. On this day, at 4 a.m., armed men in masks enter the parliament of Crimea,... hang a Russian flag, take control of all the important strategic facilities on the peninsula," the Kremlin's propagandists say.

The program also unveils the details of an operation to block the Ukrainian fleet in the Bay of Donuzlav, confrontation with Ukrainian pilots at the airfield Belbek and the seizure of Ukrainian air defense system in Crimea.

Russian Defense Ministry Shoygu, summing up the results of the operation, plainly speaks about Russian President Vladimir Putin controlling the seizure of Crimea.

"Of course, we were saved from many worries and troubles thanks to the confidence and determination of the supreme commander. We always felt and knew he kept watching and monitoring the progress in strengthening the security of both the population of Crimea and, of course, our units," Shoygu said.



ua.censor.net.ua, In Ukrainian / на українській мові


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New video published in Maidan massacre case. VIDEO

on Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:36 am
New video published in Maidan massacre case. VIDEO

On Tuesday, Feb. 14, a new video was shown during a Maidan massacre case hearing in the Sviatoshyn district court of Kyiv.

As reported by Censor.NET citing Hromadske, the footage was provided to the court by representatives of the victims.

The video, which was presumably shot from Hotel Ukraine, shows persons in black uniforms firing at the protesters. One can see powder gases rising as shots are being fired from behind the trucks facing a line of barricades and people falling wounded on Instytutska Street.

The authors of the video are not known yet. The video was sent via e-mail to one of the representatives of the victims.

According to prosecutor Roman Psiuk, the footage suggests the protesters were not advancing. They intended to set tires on fire to create a smokescreen.




In the spring of 2014, the court arrested ex-officers of Berkut riot police unit Pavlo Abroskin, Serhii Zinchenko and their commander Dmytro Sadovnyk on charges of shooting at Maidan protesters on Feb. 20, 2014. In October 2014, Sadovnyk, who had been sent under house arrest, fled the country.

In March 2015, the court arrested three more Berkut officers: Oleh Yanyshevskyi, Serhii Tamtura and Oleksandr Marynchenko.

On Feb. 16, 2016, the Sviatoshyn district court of Kyiv combined five cases against former Berkut fighters suspected of murders of Maidan activists into one file.

In May 2016, the court began to consider the case on the merits.

ua.censor.net.ua , In Ukrainian / на українській мові


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"Maybe Obama was too soft on Russia?" - Trump about the occupation of the Crimea

on Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:51 am
"Maybe Obama was too soft on Russia?" - Trump about the occupation of the Crimea

In 2014, Russia illegally took away the Crimea from Ukraine.

According Tsenzor.NET , it was declared the US president Donald Trump in Twitter .

"Russia took Crimea during the Obama government. Maybe Obama was too soft on Russia?" - He writes.

Earlier, a spokesman for the White House Sean Spicer said that the US president Donald Trump expects that Russia will provide a de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and Crimea will return. Spicer also noted that the US sanctions policy toward Russia remains unchanged.

censor.net.ua, In Russian / На русском


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Kremlin denies intelligence links during Trump campaign

on Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:46 am
Kremlin denies intelligence links during Trump campaign

Backlash continues after forced resignation of Michael Flynn

The Kremlin denied that Russian intelligence officers were in close contact with Donald Trump’s team during his campaign last year, as repercussions continued after the US administration’s national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign.

Reports in the New York Times and CNN allege the contacts with intelligence officials during Mr Trump’s campaign were “not based on any facts”, said Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday.

“Don’t read the papers in the morning,” said Mr Peskov. “These are just laughable allusions going around.”

Paul Manafort, Mr Trump’s one-time campaign manager, has denied speaking to Russian intelligence. US media did not name the other Trump aides said to have been in contact with the unspecified Russian officers.

The allegations have followed Mr Flynn’s forced resignation as national security adviser over his dealings with Moscow’s ambassador in Washington, less than a month after the US president took office.

The retired general acknowledged he had given Mike Pence, US vice-president, incomplete information about phone calls with the Russian ambassador to the US. The US justice department told the White House that it believed this could make Mr Flynn vulnerable to blackmail.

Seemingly stung by the departure of Mr Flynn, considered one of the most pro-Russian officials in Mr Trump’s cabinet, Russian media and former officials claimed on Wednesday that the US security establishment was waging a campaign against the White House................

Access complete text of the editorial:  ft.com In English


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Trump accuses intelligence community of dirty tricks campaign (Financial Times) 

on Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:40 pm
Trump accuses intelligence community of dirty tricks campaign (Financial Times)

President says leaks about Russia ties are designed to undermine his position

Donald Trump responded to a growing crisis surrounding his White House on Wednesday by rekindling a public war with the US intelligence community, accusing it of mounting a dirty tricks campaign to undermine his presidency by leaking information about his administration’s ties to Russia. 

In an early-morning Twitter barrage the US president blamed the escalating crisis that forced this week’s departure of Michael Flynn, his national security adviser, on a conspiracy fuelled by a media driven by “blind hatred” and intelligence agencies seeking revenge.

“The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by “intelligence” like candy. Very un-American!” the president said in one tweet. 

“Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?). Just like Russia,” he declared in another. 

His intervention followed reports by CNN and the New York Times that US authorities had evidence that high-level officials in his campaign had been in regular contact with senior Russian intelligence officials throughout last year’s presidential run. 

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in an attempt to tilt it in Mr Trump’s favour. But any evidence that the Kremlin colluded with Mr Trump’s campaign while doing so would take those allegations to a new level..................

Access complete text of the editorial: Financial Times In English 


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Plan Tymoshenko: can release Groisman?

on Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:10 pm
Plan Tymoshenko: can release Groisman?

Yulia Tymoshenko plans to April 14, 2017 to dismiss Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman contradict the Constitution and the law on the Cabinet of Ministers.

Since the beginning of the new parliamentary session Yulia Tymoshenko began to attack the government of Vladimir Groisman of demanding his resignation.

Mrs Tymoshenko said that Mr. Groisman responsible for the "destruction of Ukraine's economy, galloping inflation, mehakoruptsiyu, the destruction of SMEs, small villages and bring Ukrainian to poverty."

She tried to register the Parliament resolution on the dismissal of the prime minister. After debate in the Council it has not registered.

Instead, Vladimir Groisman initiative commented on the release: "The Tymoshenko - a" mom "Ukrainian economic weakness, corruption and populism, which for 20 years has done everything to destroy Ukraine."

BBC Ukraine analyzed whether Yulia Tymoshenko legal possibility to dismiss Vladimir Groisman.

Can you set aside the whole government?

Vladimir Groisman was appointed prime minister April 14, 2016. Then Parliament has formed a new government and approved its program of work.

Article 87 of the Constitution allows the Council to send the government to resign, but with two exceptions. First, during a session of the resignation can not ask twice.

Secondly, approval of the program gives the government an annual immunity. For the resolution of no confidence in the government also need to collect the signatures of at least 150 members of parliament.
Answer the resignation would be simple: until April 14, 2017 is impossible.

But Tymoshenko has found a different legal formula - not send the whole government and prime minister separate resolution.

"150 signatures of deputies to be collected if all goes retired government. In this case it is only the resignation of Prime Minister Groisman," - said Mrs. Tymoshenko.

How can you separate release Groisman?

First, just to dismiss himself prime minister in Ukraine is impossible.

Article 115 of the Constitution states that "the resignation of Prime Minister of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Cabinet resolution of no confidence should result in the resignation of the entire Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine."

That is, if dismiss Groisman, it is the entire government.

Although the Constitution does give MPs the opportunity to dismiss the prime minister, despite immunity, and each minister separately.

Article 115 of the Constitution says that the Prime Minister and ministers have the right to freely express resignation.

And Article 85 paragraph 12 adds that Parliament has the power to "decide" on the resignation of the prime minister and some ministers.

Therefore, some lawyers believe that Groisman can release the simple decision of the Council, despite the Cabinet's immune system, leading to the resignation of the entire government.

The question is: what clearly prescribe annual immunity government in the Constitution, if you can get around?

Who in the government can dismiss parliament?

If the Constitution can be found discrepancies concerning the release personal premiere bypassing immunity, the law on the Cabinet giving an exhaustive answer.

The law specifies the provisions of the Constitution to dismiss officials.

Article 18 of the law on the Cabinet states that the Council may exempt certain government regulations, but with the exception of the prime minister.

The law says that the Board may dismiss ministers on its own statement on the proposal of the prime minister, by the President (two ministers in his quota - Defence and Foreign Minister) and the fourth reason - the initiative of deputies.

But the prime minister is not the case.

precedent Yatsenyuk

Last year already occurred such conflict. 16 February 2016 Parliament considered a resolution on the responsibility of Cabinet Arseniy Yatsenyuk, but the resignation was not enough votes.

Under the Constitution, it gave the government immunity until the end of the session. Then the MPs who wanted the resignation Yatsenyuk also offered to go by, now voiced Tymoshenko.

But the idea to make the disputed terms of the Constitution and the law decree on the resignation personally Yatsenyuk refused. Politicians reached a compromise, and Yatsenyuk voluntarily resigned.
This is fully consistent with the Constitution.

Director, Center for Political and Legal Reforms Igor Koliushko comments in BBC Ukraine said that for lawyers Constitution gives a clear response to the government's resignation.

"The Constitution establishes a clear procedure that program after approval of Cabinet government has a one-year immunity of no confidence. As the premiere release entails dismissal of the government, it does not matter whether the voted confidence in the government or private retirement premiere for the same result "- said Mr. Koliushko.

Mr. Koliushko advised not to invent ways unconstitutional because two months - April 14, 2017 - will be a legitimate opportunity to set aside government.

Instead, Tymoshenko continues to insist on the immediate resignation of Vladimir Groisman, although still vote for this hardly enough.

bbc.com/ukrainian, In Ukrainian / на українській мові


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Russia’s receding hopes of a bargain with Trump

on Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:14 pm
Russia’s receding hopes of a bargain with Trump

Moscow’s strategy of interfering in foreign elections is backfiring

What looked like a coup for Russia in interfering in the US election is backfiring. Moscow’s electoral hacking may have helped its favoured candidate reach the White House — even if Donald Trump is not quite the “Siberian candidate” it expected. But Michael Flynn’s resignation as national security adviser after his ill-advised and potentially illegal dealings with Russia’s US ambassador to the US, make any reset or “grand bargain” with President Vladimir Putin less likely.

That is not just because Mr Flynn had been a leading proponent of such a deal, and may well now be replaced by someone with very different views. For Mr Trump, pursuing a rapprochement with Russia or making any concession on sanctions would be an even riskier gamble.

It is long past time for Republican leaders to launch a full congressional investigation into Mr Trump’s Russian ties. Such an investigation could be highly damaging. Recent leaks suggesting co-ordination between Mr Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence officials should not be brushed aside. US national interests are at stake.

This week’s extraordinary developments already appear to have prompted a change of tone on Russia, even though foreign policy flip-flops have become a feature of the Trump White House.

Comments by the president and his spokesman since Tuesday that Russia “took” Crimea and should return it to Ukraine are a striking volte-face from Mr Trump’s campaign hints that he might recognise Russia’s claim to the Black Sea peninsula.

In response, the mood in Moscow seems to be shifting from initial jubilation over Mr Trump’s election victory and its implications for ties with the US, to consternation. Russia’s foreign ministry responded testily to the White House’s Crimea comments that “we don’t give back our own territory”.................

Access complete text of the editorial:  ft.com In English


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