• Kazakhstan’s nuclear power plans - the mysteries only deepen - The Ecologist

    Russia has announced that it will build the first thermal nuclear power station in Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium producer, writes Komila Nabiyeva. But where in that vast country will it be located? Who will own and operate it? How many reactors are planned? Who will get the power? And will it ever actually happen?

    As the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, signed the recent deal forming the Eurasian Economic Union with his counterparts from Belarus and Kazakhstan in the Kazakh capital city of Astana, one controversial agreement went relatively unnoticed.

    On the same day, May 29, the Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Kazakh national atomic company, Kazatomprom, on constructing the first nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan.

    The MoU lays out intentions of both parties on design, construction, commissioning, operation and decommissioning of a nuclear power plant with water-water energy reactors (VVER) - that is, water-cooled water-moderated reactors - with an installed capacity of 300 to 1,200 MW, according to the Rosatom press release.

    But other vital details about where the plant will be, and who will own and operate it, remain a mystery. In media interviews, Rosatom said the plant will be constructed in Kurchatov, a city in north-east Kazakhstan, near the former Soviet Semipalatinsk nuclear test site.

    @simplicissimus @reka #nucléaire #asie_centrale #Kazkhstan

  • No ammunition moved through Russia-#Ukraine border - #OSCE monitors — RT News

    OSCE observers stationed at two Russian border checkpoints, the Ukrainian counterparts of which are controlled by the Ukrainian military, have not witnessed any movements of weapons across the border.

    The monitors did witness young people “dressed in military style” moving across the border into Ukraine, Paul Picard, acting chief observer of the OSCE Mission, told journalists. However, all of them were unarmed.

    There were also no instances of military vehicles crossing the border in some two weeks which the observers spent at Gukovo and Donetsk checkpoints, he added.

    He added that the OSCE did its part in assisting the international effort to check a Russian humanitarian aid convoy before it would be allowed into Ukraine, but said the organization has little impact here, because the progress with the convoy depends on Russian and Ukrainian authorities and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

    The presence of the observers on the Russian side of the border was part of an agreement aimed at deescalating the conflict in eastern Ukraine. They were invited amid Kiev’s claims that Russia supplies arms and military vehicles to the armed militia fighting against the Ukrainian troops in Donetsk and Lugansk Regions.

    The monitors were supposed to be deployed after a ceasefire by Kiev, but Moscow agreed to host them unconditionally as a gesture of goodwill.

    (intégralité de l’article)

  • Russian Ambassador : We will reach agreement on Mongolian issues | The UB Post

    Zuunii Medee spoke frankly with with I.K.Azizov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia to Mongolia, ahead of President Putin’s upcoming state visit, and discussed bilateral relations and upcoming negotiations.
    We have only two neighbor countries and our citizens have always shown a fondness for Russia. Even now, we use the term “brothers”.
    It’s probably a tradition from the Soviet Union. I know that in Asia, fraternity is designated as older or younger brothers. I guess that the word “brother” is respectful, but I prohibit using this term, because I don’t want to insult Mongolians by saying something domineering, like “You’re our younger brothers and we are your older brothers.” Therefore, we can’t define our current relations this way.

    Réponse très diplomatique, sachant qu’effectivement il y a deux mots frère en mongol selon qu’il s’agit du grand frère (ах) ou du petit frère (дүү)…

    Mongolians are expecting so much from Putin’s visit. For example, setting gas lines from Russia to China through Mongolia. Of course, the Ulaanbaatariin Tunkhaglal (UB Declaration) is an important document. However, we can’t see improvements to economic ties and investment issues. We haven’t implemented any major economic projects. Do you think we will establish an agreement on a project which could be an economic boom?
    We have been looking for chances to strengthen our friendly relations. I don’t agree with you that there have been no improvements to bilateral relations since 2000. If we want to use the term “boom”, cancelling 97.8 percent of Mongolian debt can apply. This set the Mongolian economy free and positively influenced drawing in external investment for multilateral projects.
    Then will the issue on setting up a gas line through Mongolia be approached again? Or has it already been decided that the gas line from Russia to China will not pass through Mongolia?
    As President Putin said, setting the gas line to the east is already obvious, but it won’t pass through Mongolia. Also, we are planning to set up a gas line to China in the west. We are actively discussing the operation of those gas lines with the Chinese side.
    What is your opinion on bilateral visa exemptions?
    We have information that from Mongolia to Russia, 600,000 people travel in duplicated numbers, whereas from Russia to Mongolia, it’s 100,000 people. From our experience, we’ve noticed that after exempting visa requirements, the number of travelers surges. If we reach this agreement on visa exemption, then multilateral relations will improve in business, humanity, culture, science, education, sport and tourism.

    Pas de #gazoduc à travers la #Mongolie

  • L’embargo russe contre l’Europe aisé à contourner, Europe

    De son côté, s’il veut tenir son embargo, Vladimir Poutine sera sans doute obligé de hausser le ton avec le Belarus et le Kazakhstan. Quitte à mettre à mal l’Union Economique Eurasienne, qui l’a poussé à déstabiliser l’Ukraine quand cette dernière a tourné le dos à ce qui est son projet géostragégique clé. Une incohérence de plus dans la crise qui engloutit en ce moment la Russie et ses voisins.

    Je ne comprends toujours pas comment ces gens peuvent tenir de tels raisonnements avec un tel sérieux et une si grande persévérance.

    • Les intermédiaires européens ne manquent pas d’idées pour contourner l’embargo…

      Belarussian Oysters Anyone ? EU Food Trade Looks to Sidestep Russian Ban -

      Some west European traders are looking at other possible loopholes, including possible schemes based on Moscow’s formal application of the ban specifically to the EU and Norway.

      Not only does that leave out Switzerland and Iceland, as well as Liechtenstein, but some note it might also exclude territories like Denmark’s Faroe Islands that are not in the EU.

      However, the temptation for, say, Norway’s salmon farmers to route their big Russian trade through the Faroes may carry too much risk to future dealings with Moscow to be worth the effort.

      In any case it remains unclear whether Russia will in fact view Faroese or other produce as exempt from the embargo.

      Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich cited the Faroes and Greenland, another Danish territory, in reported comments saying he was seeking clarification from the Moscow customs authorities on how they will treat such imports.

      Theoretical hair-splitting about the geographical scope of the Russian ban should not apply, however, to the likes of Switzerland, Turkey, Serbia and some of its small, ex-Yugoslav neighbours that have not followed the EU in applying sanctions on Moscow and so are exempt from Russian retaliation.

      Sans parler des bientôt célèbres #huitres_biélorusses et autres #crevettes_kazakhstanaises.
      Borat n’est pas loin…

    • Sujet de la BBC à Genève.
      Accent british de Mme Imogen Foulkes…
      … et francophone de l’affineur de comté : « Oh la la, yes ! »

      BBC News - Russia turns to Switzerland in the face of sanctions

      Non-EU member Switzerland is staying neutral amid sanctions imposed on Russia over the ongoing Ukraine crisis.

      It is supplying the country with more and more cheese, as French and Dutch supplies run out.

      However, the situation does not please Switzerland’s biggest trading partner, the European Union.

    • A aucun moment, ces gens biens ne parlent du surcoût de ces mesures de contournement. Quoi qu’il arrive, les marchandises arriveront plus chères, et seront donc vendues en moindre quantité.

      Cette dynamique de sanctions atteint son but : un résultat perdant-perdant pour les deux parties. Malgré la titraille grotesque, juste là « pour se rassurer ».

  • Russian armoured vehicles and military trucks cross border into Ukraine - Telegraph

    A column of armoured vehicles and military trucks crossed the border from Russia into Ukraine on Thursday night, in the first confirmed sighting of such an incident by Western journalists.

    A separate, larger convoy of around 270 Russian trucks, which Moscow claims is carrying aid, rumbled to a halt just short of the border on Thursday night, while in east Ukraine, shells hit the centre of rebel-held Donetsk for the first time.

    The Telegraph witnessed a column of vehicles including both armoured personal carriers and soft-skinned lorries crossing into Ukraine at an obscure border crossing near the Russian town of Donetsk shortly before 10pm local time.

    The Ukrainian and Western governments have long accused Russia of filtering arms and men across the border to fuel the separatist insurgency in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, but such an incident has never before been witnessed by Western journalists.

    The convoy, which included at least 23 vehicles, appeared to be waiting until sunset near a refugee camp just outside Donetsk, before moving towards the crossing without turning off headlights or making any other attempt to conceal itself.

    While it was not immediately clear whether all of that convoy crossed the border, The Telegraph did see a substantial number of vehicles pass through check point manned by gunmen after shadowing the convoy down narrow country lanes near the frontier.

    While the force did not seem to be a substantial invasion force, it confirms that military supplies are moving across the border. While the APCs carried no visible markings the fuel tankers and soft-skinned trucks in the convoy bore black Russian military number plates.

    « it was not immediately clear » mais bien assez pour crier victoire : on va pouvoir passer à la suite. Et le MH17, y-a pas de droit de suite ?

    #ukraine #russie

  • Long et intéressant article sur le conflit UE-Gazprom

    Stalled Gazprom Antitrust Case May Suggest Unease for Energy Sanctions -

    Even as Russia and the West keep raising the stakes in their economic sanctions battle, the one commodity that could matter most — Russian natural gas — seems still to be off limits.

    And that is all the more notable because long before Ukraine erupted as a geopolitical crisis, the European Union was aggressively pressing an antitrust case against the Russian state-controlled gas giant, Gazprom. If Europe has grounds to punish Moscow economically, the Gazprom antitrust case might seem to be a prime opportunity.

    Gazprom is suspected of inflating prices and imposing unfair restrictions on gas distribution within Europe, which is heavily reliant on Russian natural gas.

    As recently as last winter, Russia and the European Union’s competition commissioner, Joaquín Almunia, seemed on the verge of settling. But now the case appears to be languishing. And people close to the inquiry are uncertain whether it will be revived before the autumn, when Mr. Almunia is scheduled to leave office.

    While that prospect is disappointing to small European Union countries like Lithuania that are particularly dependent on Gazprom for their energy needs, the lost momentum of the antitrust case seems to underscore a reality: So far the sanctions war may be more about symbolic actions than imposing far-reaching economic pain on either side.

    Les accusations

    The antitrust investigation began in September 2011 with surprise raids by European officials on Gazprom offices and those of several of its customers in Germany and across Central and Eastern Europe.

    A year later Mr. Almunia opened a formal antitrust case asking three main questions:
    – Was Gazprom blocking gas flows in some parts of Europe?
    – Was the company thwarting its European customers’ efforts to diversify sources of supply?
    – And was it imposing unfairly high charges by linking gas prices to those of oil, rather than basing prices on global natural gas market rates?

    The case concentrated on Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

    Comment déterminer le « prix juste » (ie du marché) en situation d’exclusivité et d’absence d’alternative ?

    But the current case is a challenge to the way Gazprom links its gas prices to oil. That is a hugely sensitive issue for Mr. Putin and Russia, where a significant chunk of the national budget depends on the company’s energy export earnings.

    Oil-linked pricing in Europe goes back decades to the development of gas fields in countries like the Netherlands. Gas was pegged to the price of oil, which gas was replacing for uses like heating.

    But linked pricing began breaking down in Western Europe with deregulation of energy markets and with the availability of new supplies like liquefied natural gas, or L.N.G. But pricing still can be opaque, even in Western Europe, where a complete break of the oil-gas price link has proved difficult for big buyers in countries including Italy.

    Energy experts said Mr. Almunia would be on firm legal ground in demanding that Gazprom rid contracts of clauses that limit Eastern and Central European countries from shipping Russian gas to other destinations within the European Union. But many say that Mr. Almunia may have less standing to challenge Gazprom’s pricing practices.

    “For the Baltic States and Poland I think the commission is on difficult ground,” said Jonathan Stern, the chairman of a natural gas research program at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. He said the only viable alternative source of supply for those countries was L.N.G., which usually comes by ship from countries like Qatar and Norway and still is generally more costly than Russian gas carried by pipeline.

    “It’s very unlikely that either the Poles or the Lithuanians or anyone in the Baltics currently and historically could have obtained gas at a cheaper price than the Russians are selling it to them,” Mr. Stern said. “Politicians and people high up in the commission say the fact that prices charged to the Baltic States are higher than the prices charged to Germany proves those prices are anticompetitive. But that is not proof.”

  • Finalement, les 5 militaires ukrainiens retenus par la Russie ont été rendus à leur pays.

    Five Ukrainian soldiers who crossed in Russia arrested
    Ukrainian soldiers stand by their camp near Rostov on Aug. 4.

    MOSCOW, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Five Ukrainian soldiers have been arrested on suspicion of shelling civilian areas of eastern Ukraine and firing into Russia, a Russian law-enforcement agency said on Friday.

    The five were among some 300 Ukrainian soldiers and border guards who were forced by fighting in eastern Ukraine to cross into Russia on Monday, Ukraine said earlier this week .

    Most of those troops have since been returned to Ukraine, but Russia’s Investigative Committee, a law-enforcement agency that reports directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said it detained five officers from a Ukrainian mechanised brigade.

    The Russian agency said it had evidence the brigade had fired indiscriminately between July 19 and Aug 3 into the cities of Krasnodon and Chervonopartizansk in the Luhansk region, one of two the rebels want to detach from Kiev.

    Russia frees Ukrainian officers detained earlier on suspicion of war crimes

    Aug. 9, 2014, 2:29 p.m. | Ukraine

    Five Ukrainian officers detained earlier in Russia on suspicion of using prohibited means and methods of warfare in the east of Ukraine will not be prosecuted and will be allowed to return home, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

    It turned out in the course of an investigation that 72nd brigade of the Ukrainian armed forces servicemen Ivan Voitenko and four of his subordinates were obeying orders from their superiors and did not commit crimes against civilians in Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine,” Markin told Interfax on Saturday.

    Following the principle of humanity, it has been decided not to indict them and provide them with the opportunity to return to the Ukrainian territory,” Markin said.

  • 12 days lost in Siberia : 4yo girl rescued with drone, choppers, dogs (VIDEO) — RT News

    A missing four-year-old girl was rescued by Russian authorities after spending nearly two weeks wandering in Siberian forests and swamps. An unmanned aerial vehicle, helicopters, search dogs and dozens of people took part in the rescue operation.

    Little Karina went missing in Russia’s Yakutia Republic on July 29, but local authorities were only notified on August 3 about the missing child.

    Une vidéo montrant les moyens mis en œuvre dont un #drone.

  • Jihadist Leader, recently released in Jordan, openly coordinating fighting in Russia, Syria

    Un nouveau #combattant_de_la_liberté made in USA

    Staunch US and European ally Jordan released this major jihadist leader and now apparently its cool to coordinate the international jihadist fronts, especially in Russia and Syria.

    So its not surprising that matters are apparently heading quickly for a wide open blow back that many of us have been talking about for years – and the central role in creating all of this will be the militerazation of the arab spring that was first sponsored by NATO in Libya then by the West and its monarchy allies in the gulf in syria. These are the original fields for how the arab revolts turned into the spiral mess of violence, contradiction and wide open warfare that the region and, soon one thinks, beyond faces.

    Jordanian jihadist cleric Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi has urged insurgents in Russia’s North Caucasus to support and obey their new leader Aliaskhab Kebekov (aka Abu Mukhammad).

    “We call on our brothers in the Caucasus to gather around their new leader, help him, obey him and do not disobey him,” al-Maqdisi said in a video address posted on YouTube and embedded on North Caucasus jihadist websites Kavkaz-Tsentr and Islamdin on 4 August.

    Al-Maqdisi was speaking in Arabic with Russian subtitles. The seven-minute and 22-second video is entitled in Russian “Sheikh Al-Makdisiy’s address to the mojahedin of the Caucasus. Shaaban/1435 [June 2014]“.

    “Indeed, we are now suffering due to discord in the fields of jihad and due to disobedience of mojahedin leaders caused by personal opinions, personal passions and faulty doubts. I call on mojahedin brothers in the Caucasus to unite around their leader, obey him, and shun disagreements and anything which leads to discord,” he said.

    Al-Maqdisi thanked Aliaskhab Kebekov for sending his people to fight government forces in Syria.

    “We were very glad that despite the weight of jihad and despite difficulties facing mojahedin in the Caucasus, he did not forget Muslim brothers in Syria and sent them some of the best mojahedin from the Caucasus. He sent people from his groups and they took part in jihad in the best possible way. They were a model of whole-hearted bravery and selflessness. They also were a model of moderate position and lack of extremes and excessiveness. We indeed need this in jihad, especially as disagreements emerged in the fields of jihad and voices of excessiveness started to appear… We thank our brother amir [Kebekov] for this and we thank all the Caucasus mojahedin for taking part in jihad in Sham [Syria],” Al-Maqdisi said.

    He urged the Caucasus insurgents to be patient.

    “We and the mojahedin in the Caucasus know that the road is long and difficult and that jihad in the Caucasus has its difficulties. Especially now when battlefields expanded and support to the Caucasus decreased and many are busy fighting in other battlefields. We know that the road is difficult, that the situation of the mojahedin in the Caucasus is one of the most difficult. Therefore, we urge them to be firm and patient, and unite around their leaders,” he said.

    Al-Maqdisi also voiced his condolences over the death of Kebekov’s predecessor Dokka Umarov, whose death was officially confirmed by insurgents on 18 March 2014.

  • One-Eyed Knowledge « LRB blog

    The Germans still pussyfoot around Israel’s violations of international law, for obvious historical reasons. What is less obvious is why, for exactly the same reasons, they don’t shut up about Russia. In what Russians still call the Great Patriotic War after the launch of Barbarossa by the Nazis, the USSR lost between 18 and 24 million combatants and civilians, including a very large number of Russian Jews. In the selective historical memory of the EU politburo, those murders count as Jews, but not as Russians. Still more dangerous, perhaps, than wholesale ignorance is one-eyed knowledge.

  • Why Snowden hasn’t harmed Israel’s intelligence services
    There was an expectation that the Snowden documents would yield details on Israel’s electronic surveillance capabilities, yet Glenn Greenwald has barely reported on Israel.
    By Anshel Pfeffer | Aug. 6, 2014 |

    For over a year now, Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) systems administrator who fled to Russia, has been distributing through the media part of the hundreds of thousands of classified documents he took with him. Many of these reports have seriously damaged the operations of American and British intelligence services. On Monday, Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who cooperated with Snowden and wrote most of the reports based on his documents, published on the Intercept website new details on the close cooperation between NSA and its Israeli counterpart - the IDF’s Unit 8200. This is only the second time in which the Snowden documents have referred to Israel.

    Then report is fascinating and sheds new light on the way Israeli and American intelligence work together on joint targets in the region and elsewhere, in this case Egypt under the previous Muslim Brotherhood government. But it didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know before. The two countries have a long history of intelligence-sharing which has continued to deepen despite the political pitfalls and lack of personal chemistry between the heads of state. The new details Greenwald adds on the direct line between headquarters, the joint projects against Iran (partly funded by the U.S.) and the use of each other’s installations are interesting but hardly surprising.

    What is surprising is the paucity of mentions of Israel in the flow of Snowden documents. The two reports so far describe the contours of the US-Israel intelligence relationship but unlike the documents on the electronic intelligence-gathering by the U.S. and its ally, Britain, there have been no reports on actual details of Israel’s surveillance methods and its penetration of communication networks. The revelations of eavesdropping programs of the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ have caused immense damage to their countries ability to follow potential terror targets and gather information through phone and internet networks. They have lead to acrimonious debates in the west over the line between national security and intrusion on civilians’ privacy. The damage done to the intelligence services from the disclosure of their methods to keep tabs on terror organizations is assessed by the NSA at billions of dollars.

    Due to the close NSA-Unit 8200 cooperation, there was an expectation that the Snowden documents would yield similar details on Israel’s electronic surveillance capabilities. But in the thirteen months since they started to appear, we’ve yet to read any operational details. The timing of this week’s report was meant to embarrass the Obama administration for working with Israel while the Gaza operation was ongoing but in a tense period for the diplomatic relations between Washington and Jerusalem, a reminder of the closeness between their intelligence services boosts Israel’s international standing.

    Why hasn’t Greenwald published any damaging details on Israel’s eavesdropping techniques, as he has on the U.S. and Britain? There are four possible reasons.

    So many documents, so little time - Snowden hoovered up as many as 1.7 million classified documents, according to some estimates. It’s unclear whether this figure is accurate and how many of them have been handed to Greenwald and other journalists, but in every interview, Greenwald promises there are many more revelations to come that will embarrass the NSA. His new and well-funded website was founded mainly upon that promise. It’s possible that the Israeli chapter is still to come. And yet, it seems unlikely that Greenwald, who has been a constant and coruscating critic of Israel in his columns over the years, would hold back if he had anything that could harm its intelligence services. Especially as there are other competing journalists with access to some of the documents and any report on Israel’s spying activities is guaranteed click-bait.

    Special classification - In the months before he fled for Russia, Snowden accumulated as many documents as he could put his hands on. He used passwords of work colleagues to obtain those he had no access to. If he failed in purloining documents relating to joint operations with Israel, of the kind he found on the U.S. and Britain, it would indicate that Israel-related material is stored under a higher classification and different level of total compartmentalization from most NSA employees. This could be due to Israeli requirements or an American attempt to keep these operations separate from its core operations out of concern of Israeli spying. Snowden who showed great creativity in storing up his secret cache would be aware of the value of such material yet he seems to have failed to breach that particular wall of secrecy.

    Under threat - There is no evidence but at least one European intelligence analyst has wondered over the last year whether Israel has found a way to pressure either Snowden or Greenwald not to publish damaging details on Israel’s capabilities. “It’s impossible to believe that Snowden discovered so much about American and British networks yet found so little on Israel,” says the analyst who has devoted months to studying Snowden’s intelligence heist. “The only explanation I can think of is that Israel found a creative way to get to Snowden or Greenwald and convince them not to use these documents.”

    Russian interests – Snowden has lived in Moscow for the last year, since escaping there via Hong Kong. Western intelligence agencies are convinced that he and almost certainly his stolen documents are now controlled by the Kremlin’s spies, though they’re still unsure whether he was in their service (perhaps unwittingly) before he arrived in Russia. The Kremlin has a clear interest in damaging the American and British intelligence-gathering networks as the old Cold War rivalries swiftly reemerge in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. The embarrassment and anger caused in the west by Snowden’s revelations and the public suspicion of the governments’ intrusion into civilians’ privacy, have certainly served Russia, which intrudes on its own citizens to a much larger degree, well. Israel’s relationship with the Kremlin is much more opaque.

    Despite the strategic relationship with the U.S., successive Israeli governments have steadfastly refrained from criticizing Russia for its arms shipments to Syria, its nuclear assistance of Iran and most recently the invasion and annexation of Crimea. Snowden serves Russian interests and the fact that he has so far not published any documents damaging Israel’s intelligence operations could be a result of the careful efforts by Jerusalem to build quite links with Moscow since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

  • Boris Danik : Imagining Donbas vote for Ukraine’s parliament

    No one should discount the possibility of the makeup of the next Rada showing a nearly a 50-50 divide, similar to that marking all previous regimes in the independent Ukraine. This divide essentially exists into this day, with deputies now committed to the oligarchs able to swing the outcomes. Having little choice after the ouster of Yanukovych, they have swung to shape a pro-Ukrainian majority.

    Looking with open eyes, it is impossible to deny that elections for Ukraine’s parliament in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, if they take place there, would be for a party agenda similar to that of the Party of Regions.

    Notwithstanding Russia’s role in stimulating the Donbas separatism, large segments of population in that area didn’t need much stimulation to vote with guns against the new Ukrainian government which they detested.  And many still feel the same way, embittered by urban destruction and civilian casualties for which they blame Ukrainian troops.

    Denial of the evidence of hate which is there for all to see doesn’t help. Patriotically-inclined citizens who avoid a reality check can only lead to collective mistakes and exaggerated expectations.
    From a Ukrainian point of view, the question is not what would be best (the pace of war is hardly under Kyiv’s control), but rather what options not to take. Attempts to crush the rebels in their city stronghold would be countered by more firepower from Russia, including direct across-border shelling.

    Hypothetically, reconquering all of Donbas would open a plethora of problems for Ukraine’s democratic government, how to accommodate the traditionally pro-Russian population that basically despises Ukraine not of their own making, with Russian civilization attributes.

    Perhaps the best realizable outcome could be a semi-permanent ceasefire if all sides would be willing to accept it. After all, a ceasefire in Korea has held a long time. Or think of Transnistria, and don’t reject it out of hand. It may be a puny model but better than the non-stop war. Again, this is hypothetical, but so are most other solutions.
    Boris Danik is a retired Ukrainian-American living in North Caldwell, New Jersey.

    Un point de vue plutôt mesuré sur le Kyiv Post.

  • BBC - Travel - The politics of making maps

    Russia’s March invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula has not just been a headache for diplomats: it has also been the latest in a series of problems for mapmakers. Should Crimea be shown as Ukrainian? Russian? Disputed?

    The US government chose not to change its official maps of the region, because, the US State Department press spokesperson said, “we reject the Russian attempt to annex Crimea”. National Geographic, on the other hand, shaded Crimea grey, its sign of “an area of special status”.

    #cartographie #manipulation #propagande #représentation

  • Another Cost of War: Spread Of Tuberculosis

    DONETSK, Ukraine – While Russia’s war against Ukraine has claimed more than 1,000 lives since April, in addition to at least 363 servicemen, there are other casualties that aren’t getting as much attention.

    One of them is worsening public health, specifically a tuberculosis epidemic because of dislocation and stress, interrupted medical treatment and the outdated approach that health officials take to curing the potentially deadly disease.

    “We will definitely have an outbreak in prevalence of all forms of TB after all this ends,” predicts Natalia Chursina, deputy head of the Donetsk Regional Tuberculosis Hospital.

    #ukraine #santé #tuberculose

  • 99 Problems, and a Wild Gecko Space Orgy Is Just One - Facts So Romantic

    By the time of this launch of the space shuttle Discovery in 2009, NASA knew well the dangers of lightning to spacecraft. At the launch of Apollo 12, in 1969, they were in the dark.NASAOn July 19, Russia launched a satellite designed to study the effects of microgravity on, among other living beings, geckos. The purpose was to observe the geckos—four females and one lucky male—mating, then study how fertilization in microgravity affected the eggs after the satellite returned to Earth. But there was a glitch: The satellite stopped responding to commands. Russia’s orbiting gecko orgy was zooming around the planet out of control. An out-of-control orbiting gecko orgy is probably a first, but in one way is not so surprising: Ever since we started sending machines up into space, strange (...)

  • #Greenpeace ship #Arctic_Sunrise released by Russia - Yahoo News

    The Amsterdam-based environmental group said Friday the Arctic Sunrise departed the northern Russian port city of Murmansk and was headed to Amsterdam.

    The ship had been held since September 2013 after Russian authorities seized it during a protest against an offshore oil platform and arrested the 30 people on board. Greenpeace opposes the location of the platform, within the Arctic Circle.

    The crew and journalists were initially charged with piracy and were held in Russian prisons for months after their arrest near the #Prirazlomnaya platform. The charges were later downgraded to hooliganism and they were eventually released shortly before the Sochi Olympics.

  • Poroshenko asks Belarusian president to help arrange trilateral meeting of Donbas contact group in Minsk on July 31

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called on his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko to help arrange a meeting of a trilateral contact group in Minsk on July 31 to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.

    “Petro Poroshenko has announced his appeal to President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko for assistance in arranging a meeting in Minsk on July 31 of the trilateral contact group on the settlement of the situation in Donbas, including second president of [independent] Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, Russian Ambassador Mikhail Zurabov and an OSCE representative,” the presidential press service reported on Tuesday evening.

  • U.S. Releases Images That Purportedly Show Russia Fired Artillery Into Ukraine - ABC News

    The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a series of overhead images that, it says, show evidence of artillery fire from the Russian side of the border directed at Ukrainian military positions in Ukraine.

    ODNI claims the images prove Russian military — not Russian-backed separatists operating from across the border — were responsible.

    The following images provide evidence that Russian forces have fired across the border at Ukrainian military forces, and that Russia-backed separatists have used heavy artillery, provided by Russia, in attacks on Ukrainian forces from inside Ukraine,” ODNI wrote atop a four-page file that includes four images ODNI says were taken July 21-26.
    PHOTO: The ODNI says that this slide shows ground scarring at a multiple rocket launch site on the Russian side of the border oriented in the direction of Ukrainian military units within Ukraine.
    PHOTO: The ODNI says that this slide shows ground scarring at two multiple rocket launch sites oriented in the direction of Ukrainian military units.
    Note: sur celle-ci, les traces de départ sont situées en Ukraine.

  • Questions Remain About U.S. Intel and Airline Warnings Before MH17 Downing

    In the weeks before Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, U.S. intelligence agencies were tracking a steady buildup of heavy weapons in the region, including tanks and rocket launchers flowing across the border from Russia and into the hands of Moscow-backed separatists. But U.S. analysts didn’t confirm that a surface-to-air missile capable of striking a commercial airplane had made its way into the fighters’ hands until after the jet was destroyed on July 17, according to senior U.S. intelligence officials, who briefed reporters earlier this week.
    That assessment was at odds, though, with public statements by the rebels themselves, who claimed in late June that they’d obtained a weapon that might bring down a commercial jet. In addition, Ukrainian officials said that they had spotted an SA-11 missile launcher, known as a Buk, in rebel hands at least three days before the downing of MH17.
    The question of what U.S. and Ukrainian authorities knew about separatists’ weapons, and when, has taken on new urgency following the downing of MH17 and the death of all 298 people aboard.
    Neither Ukrainian security officials nor the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration had warned airlines prior to the shoot-down not to fly over eastern Ukraine, despite high-level discussions in both governments about the buildup of Russian heavy weaponry. Following the plane crash, the FAA banned all U.S. carriers from flying over the region. But questions remain about why authorities didn’t issue a warning sooner.
    An FAA spokesperson didn’t respond to multiple emails and phone messages asking whether U.S. intelligence agencies had provided any warning about a threat against airliners prior to the strike. A White House spokesperson referred queries on the matter to the FAA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). And a spokesperson at the ODNI deferred to the White House on the question of what intelligence was shared about aviation threats.
    The lack of clarity on whether airlines were warned to stay clear of eastern Ukraine is prompting scrutiny of the FAA and the intelligence community on Capitol Hill. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote to President Barack Obama on Monday asking what U.S. intelligence agencies knew about SA-11 missiles in eastern Ukraine and why the FAA didn’t alert U.S. carriers in the area.
    It’s only right to assume that our intelligence collectors were fully aware of SA-11 missiles in eastern Ukraine, from day one,” Joe Kasper, Hunter’s spokesman, told Foreign Policy on Thursday. “So at some point, that information should have been shared, specifically with the FAA in this case,” Kasper said. He noted that after Russian forces invaded and occupied Crimea in February, the FAA issued a notice barring U.S. carriers from flying over the area. “But there’s no evidence whatsoever that the FAA was alerted of SA-11s in the area so the [notice] could be updated,” Kasper said, adding: “Either there’s no process in place for notifying the FAA or someone dropped the ball.

  • Sanctions, bientôt les affaires sérieuses : Coupe du monde de Football 2018 et Grand prix de Formule 1 de Sotchi en octobre.

    MH17: World Cup 2018 shouldn’t be held in Russia, says Nick Clegg | Western Daily Press

    The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that allowing the Football World Cup 2018 to go ahead in Russia was “unthinkable” - and Russia’s first F1 Grand Prix which is due to take place in Sochi in October should also be cancelled.

    He said it was “unthinkable” at present that the tournament could go ahead in the country blamed by the West for supplying arms to the separatist rebels accused of causing the deaths of all 298 on board.

    Without a change of course by president Vladimir Putin, Mr Clegg said it would make the world look “so weak and so insincere” in its condemnation of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and support for the rebels.

    Football’s world governing body Fifa this week ruled out calls from some German politicians for Russia to be boycotted, insisting the tournament could be “a force for good”.

  • House Armed Services Chair Blames Putin for MH17 Tragedy

    Speaking with VOA’s Carol Castiel on Press Conference USA, Rep. Buck McKeon, a Republican from California [,head of the House Armed Services Committee] said the evidence points to Russia.
    You have to go to the top, and in that case, it’s Putin,” he said. “I’m not saying he was the one who launched the missile or gave the order, but he put that in place.

    D’ailleurs, il a une idée pour calmer la Russie…

    McKeon said that because the incident is still so recent, there hasn’t been any discussion about what to do, but he did offer what he said was a solution to Russia’s aggression.
    What I’d like to see us do is become energy independent and help Europe become energy independent so they’re not beholden to Russia,” McKeon said.

    Ah oui, pousser l’Europe à dépendre des États-Unis pour son énergie.

  • Estonia, Baltic states stand to suffer most from Russia sanctions | EurActiv

    With demand levels remaining relatively low amongst its major trading partners in Europe, it appears as if Estonia’s subdued growth may be due to cyclical factors. Much will, however, also depend on how the situation in Eastern Ukraine evolves. Should the international community follow the recent example of the US and tighten economic sanctions against Russia, which also happens to be Estonia’s largest export destination, the Baltic country might feel a more profound impact on its economy.

    The country’s newly elected prime minister, Taavi Roivas, seems to be taking the long view on this. Quoted recently by Reuters, Roivas suggested that the economic discomfort might be worth bearing to secure a favourable political outcome.

    As the situation in the Eastern Ukraine continued to escalate this week in the wake of the Malaysian Airlines disaster, Talinn and its Baltic partners may be wondering how long they will still be able to take the pain.

  • Russia opens corridor for evacuation of wounded, dead Ukrainian servicemen across border

    Rostov-on-Don - 12 injured Ukrainian servicemen who underwent medical treatment in Russia and the bodies of two dead ones have been delivered to the Gukovo and Novoshakhtinsk checkpoints at the Russian-Ukrainian border, Vasily Malayev, a spokesman for the Federal Security Service (FSB) border department for the Rostov region, told Interfax on Saturday, July 26.

  • Key blue-chip companies owned by Ukraine still not up for sale

    The Ukrainian government on July 17 finally approved a list of 164 companies that it hopes to privatize this year and earn $1.25 billion for state coffers.

     The biggest ones include a power generator and regional power distribution companies, and nitrogen fertilizer producer Odesa Portside Plant, which controls the sea port and ammonia pipeline from Russia across Ukraine. 

    But the most interesting companies are missing, including the biggest oil company, Ukrnafta, controlled by Ihor Kolomoisky’s so-called Privat Group. Turboatom, the exclusive Ukrainian turbine equipment producer in which Konstantin Grigorishin is a minority shareholder is also not up for sale. Two titanium mining and processing assets – Sumykhimprom and Zaporizhzhya Titanium-Magnesium Plant – are also off the list. The former is managed by Dmytro Firtash’s former top executive, Igor Lazakovich. The latter is part of Firtash’s titanium business. As the only producer of titanium sponge in Europe, ZTMP on July 21 announced that it started producing value-added products such as, ingots, slabs, and alloys, following the introduction of advanced technologies at the plant.

    Despite the State Property Fund’s expectation of making $1.25 billion on privatization, Dragon Capital senior analyst Desnnis Sakva thinks the government’s forecasts are too optimistic. “It is hardly realistic for the government to sell such a wide range of assets within a half year, not only due to the ongoing military operation in the East and its impact on the domestic investment climate but also due to the sheer volume of underlying paperwork,” it said in a note to investors.

    But Vasyl Yurchyshyn, director of economic programs for the Razumkov Center, said that privatization could be successful in Ukraine because assets are cheap. “If the competition will be open and rules are clear, then we can talk about significant revenue,” he said.

    The privatization list is long because the nation urgently needs money. But sales amid the instabilities of war could prove problematic.