EU Follows Obama’s Lead Voting To Open the Armories of Europe for Ukraine

[SEE:  Obama’s Russian War Resolution Passes By 411 to 23]

Russia accuses European parliament of gunning for war

kyiv post

President Petro Poroshenko gives a speech as he hands over new military equipment to the Ukrainian forces near the city of Zhytomyr, some 140 km from Kiev, on January 5, 2015.
© SERGEI SUPINSKY / AFP

Russian officials have accused the European Union of “militancy” in a bitter response to the Jan. 15 European parliament resolution giving member states carte blanche to supply arms to Ukraine.

The head of the Russian Federation Council committee on international affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, denounced the resolution as “especially militant.”

“The European parliamentarians discourage those who are trying to look for dialogue with Russia, not confrontation,” he said.

The European parliament condemned Russia’s “aggressive and expansionist policy, which constitutes a threat to the unity and independence of Ukraine and poses a potential threat to the EU itself.”

In its resolution, parliament urged the European Council to keep in place tough sanctions against Russia and even proposed broadening them into the nuclear and international financial sectors if Putin’s government continues to destabilize Ukraine.

The resolution went on to state that “there are now no objections or legal restrictions to prevent Member States from providing defensive arms to Ukraine” and that “the EU should explore ways to support the Ukrainian government in enhancing its defence capabilities and the protection of Ukraine’s external borders.”

Aleksey Pushkov, the head of the foreign affairs Committee of the Russian Duma, called the resolution “banal and dangerous.”

“By calling to maintain and even enhance sanctions against Russia the European Parliament is supporting tension in Europe,” Pushkov added.

The European Parliament resolved to support the EU’s existing policy of refusing to recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea and welcomed recently adopted additional sanctions on investment, services and trade relating to Crimea and Sevastopol.

It also highlighted Russia’s “information war” in Europe and called on the EU officials to develop a plan to counter Russian propaganda with their own Russian language programming.

Yet Ukraine was also disappointed with the resolution, which fell short of describing the Russian-backed separatists as terrorists.

President Petro Poroshenko had claimed on Jan. 13 that the European Parliament was preparing to call on the leaders of European Union to place the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic on their list of terrorist organizations.

But European MPs instead condemned “acts of terrorism and criminal behavior of the separatists and other irregular forces in eastern Ukraine,” adding that “according to credible sources, Russia continues to support the separatist militias through a steady flow of military equipment, mercenaries and regular Russian units, including main battle tanks, sophisticated anti-aircraft systems and artillery.”

The Russian war — using proxies and, when needed, Russian regular army troops — in eastern Ukraine has already taken more than 4,700 lives, according to United Nations estimates. On Dec. 18, U.S. President Barack Obama signed a law allowing for economic and military support to Ukraine, but the current American policy remains not to supply Ukraine with lethal weapons.

Kyiv Post staff writer Oksana Grytsenko can be reached at grytsenko@kyivpost.com

Innocuous-Sounding UN “Resilience” Campaign Back-Door For Machinery of Control

[Part of the risk reduction regime (MANAGING DISASTERS AND CONFLICTS IN OIC COUNTRIES–Organization of Islamic Cooperation)]

Cities in Central Asia, Caucasus sign up to UN campaign to become more resilient

un news

Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo: Radmilla Suleymanova

12 January 2015 – Eight cities in Central Asia and the Caucasus, including capitals Tbilisi and Bishkek, have signed on to strengthen community resilience by integrating disaster risk reduction into their national and local policy, representing a big boost for the United Nations initiative which already has over 2,400 participants worldwide.

The global campaign, Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready!, launched in 2010 for a period of five years until 2015, is promoted by the Geneva-based UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

“The campaign helps participants to become better organized and to identify key priorities for action for risk reduction. They can also benefit from the shared experience of other participants facing similar challenges. It is a very dynamic and interactive campaign,” said Madhavi Malalgoda Ariyabandu, UNISDR regional coordinator.

UNISDR’s initiative, now in partnership with the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), is titled “Strengthened Disaster Risk Reduction in Central Asia and the Caucasus through greater fostering of the Hyogo Framework for Action priorities.”

The eight cities to sign up are Noyemberyan and Berd in Armenia; Tbilisi and Gori in Georgia; Oskemen and Ridder in Kazakhstan; and Bishkek and Kara-Kol in Kyrgyzstan.

“These cities and towns are committing to a ten-point checklist of actions which help them to become resilient to disasters and to manage their growth in a sustainable way,” said Ms. Ariyabandu.

The worldwide campaign is based on 10 essentials for developing local resilience, which in turn build on the five priorities for action of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), endorsed by UN Member States for the period 2005-2015.

Central Asia and the Caucasus are exposed to a range of natural and technological hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, mud and debris flows, avalanches, floods, drought and extreme temperatures inflicting serious human and economic losses. Risks and exposure to risk are exacerbated by the rapid growth of urban population and climate change.

Over the 30-year period from 1980, 14 million people were affected by 131 major disaster events with economic losses of $3.8 billion. The destructive earthquake in Spitak, Armenia in 1988 and the extreme cold spell across Central Asia in 2008, prove the importance of strengthening communities.

To address these challenges, the campaign will aim to build local capacity to assess risks of natural hazards, update action plans which are disaster risk inclusive, increase accessibility of international expertise in disaster risk reduction, and foster exchange of experiences between municipalities and local governments.

A post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction is expected to be approved at a world conference, in March 2015, in Sendai, Japan, emphasizing the need to continue to work to strengthen community resilience, particularly in municipalities with less than 10,000 inhabitants.


News Tracker: past stories on this issue

UN-backed disaster resilience campaign tops 2,000 participating cities

5. Further, a confluence of risk drivers are compounding losses and need to be
both better understood and better addressed. Development that fails to assess risk, environmental degradation, climate change, poverty and inequality, weak
governance mechanisms and rapid urbanization in highly exposed areas are fueling losses and exacerbating both the vulnerability and exposure of societies to disaster losses
6. Urbanization in hazard-prone areas demands risk assessment and planning
with foresight…Given that 60 per cent of the area expected to be urban in 2030 remains to be built, the opportunity to proactively shape and plan the cities of tomorrow must be seized.

.

8.  Risks need to be understood and proactively managed at the community level. An evidence-based and integrated approach by both the public and private sectors needs to be institutionalized, so that investments are made more resilient.
10.  Methodologies and tools for assessing the “na-tech” risk, as the combined risk posed by the natural and technological is sometimes referred to, are limited and need to be invested in. Several factors need to be taken into consideration in establishing integrated strategies for reducing the risk of potential nuclear,
technological, biological, chemical or radiological events, given the wide-ranging implications they can have on health, agriculture, the wider environment and the safety of people and communities in general.

EU Leadership Still Self-Blind To US Evil Intentions for Europe and Russia

[SEE:  West wants to end confrontation with Russia over Ukraine – EU foreign policy chief ]
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini…rejected the idea that the EU’s position on the crisis differs from that of the US.
“It is not true that there is a soft Europe stance, which opposes the US hardline position.”
Mogherini said that Washington’s views on Russia match those of Europe…“everyone wants to get out of the logic of confrontation.”

‘F**k the EU’

Victoria Nuland: US-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Geoffrey R. Pyatt: United States Ambassador to Ukraine

Biden says US ’embarrassed’ EU into sanctioning Russia over Ukraine

Russia-Today
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

America’s leadership had to embarrass Europe to impose economic hits on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine – even though the EU was opposed to such a motion, US Vice President Joe Biden revealed during a speech at Harvard.

“We’ve given Putin a simple choice: Respect Ukraine’s sovereignty or face increasing consequences,” Biden told a gathering at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics on Thursday.

The consequences were the sanctions which the EU imposed on Russia, first targeting individual politicians and businessmen deemed responsible for the crisis in Ukraine, then switching to the energy, defense, and economic sectors.

“It is true they did not want to do that,” Biden admitted.

“It was America’s leadership and the president of the United States insisting, oft times almost having to embarrass Europe to stand up and take economic hits to impose costs,” the US vice president declared.

AFP Photo / Patrick Hertzog

AFP Photo / Patrick Hertzog

Those costs deemed behind the ruble’s historic plunge not only forced America’s ExxonMobil to retreat from Russia’s Arctic shelf, but also provoked counter-measures from Moscow, which suspended certain food imports from the EU.

Russia’s counter-sanctions have hit many of the EU’s agricultural states. EU members, particularly those close to Russia, were the most affected by the loss of the Russian market.

For instance, the Netherlands – the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products – is set to lose 300 million euro annually from canceled business with Russia, as it accounts for roughly 10 percent of Dutch exports of vegetables, fruit, and meat.

At the same time, Poland was hit hard by the Kremlin’s sanctions, as its food exports to Russia totaled $1.5 billion in 2013.

Spain, a large exporter of oranges to Russia, is estimated to miss out on 337 million euro ($421 million) in food and agriculture sales, while Italy has estimated its losses at nearly 1 billion euro ($1.2 billion).

Following pressure from local farmers, a 125 million euro EU Commission Common Agricultural Policy fund was established, from which the growers are expected to get some cash, while Amsterdam is willing to cover the cost of transporting excess produce to eight food banks across Holland.

Overall, Moscow’s one-year food embargo against the EU, the US, Norway, Australia, and Canada will block an estimated $9 billion worth of agricultural exports to Russia.

With European countries now at a loss with apple and dairy surplus, it is not exactly clear whether EU producers will be able to return to the Russian markets after the one-year ban expires.

However, this is no secret to the US, as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland remarked on Thursday.

“Implementing sanctions isn’t easy and many countries are paying a steep price. We know that. But history shows that the cost of inaction and disunity in the face of a determined aggressor will be higher,” Nuland said.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (R) and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt (2nd R) distribute bread to riot police near Independence square in Kiev December 11, 2013. (Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (R) and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt (2nd R) distribute bread to riot police near Independence square in Kiev December 11, 2013. (Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)

Nuland’s reference to necessary action against the “aggressor” might be taken with a grain of salt by the Europeans, as the “F**k the EU” leak is still fresh in their memory.

The four-minute video – titled ‘Maidan puppets,’ referring to Independence Square in Ukraine’s capital – was uploaded by an anonymous user to YouTube.

Nuland was recorded as saying the notoriously known phrase during a phone call with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, as the two were seemingly discussing a US-preferred line-up of the Ukrainian government. It apparently referred to Washington’s policy differences with those of the EU on ways of handling the Ukrainian political crisis, with Nuland suggesting to “glue this thing” with the help of the UN and ignore Brussels.

The US State Department did not deny the authenticity of the video and stressed that Nuland had apologized for the “reported comments.”

Another Fistfight In Georgia Parliament Over “Enemy of the State” Saakashvili and His Goons In Ukraine

[SEE:  Georgian PM Declares Saakashvili Enemy of State ]


Dec. 26 Fistfight in Georgia Parliament over troops seduced by Saakashvili’s snake tongue into resigning from Georgian Army to enlist in Ukraine Fascist forces fighting in the east.


Last year’s brawl in Georgia Parliament (Dec 11, 2013) over sending troops to fight in Ukraine.

Jeffrey Feltman Is Coming To Ukraine–the Man Who Starts and Manages the Bush/Obama Civil Wars

feltman

United Nations, Dec 13, 2014:
Jeffrey Feltman, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, is scheduled to visit Ukraine early next week in a bid to support UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s efforts to seek a peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, a UN spokesman said here Friday.”Feltman, in an effort to support the secretary-general’s good offices to assist in finding a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine, will travel to Kiev Dec 16 and 17 for consultations with senior officials,” Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing.

The visit of the UN political chief comes just a few days after the trip of the UN assistant secretary-general for human rights, Ivan Simonovic, who is currently in Ukraine to assess the human rights situation in the country.

During his visit, Simonovic is scheduled to meet a number of Ukrainian government officials as well as civil society actors, the official said, adding that he is also scheduled to visit the eastern region of the country.

The visits by the two senior UN officials take place one week after Ukrainian forces suspended hostilities against independence-seeking insurgents in the country’s eastern region.

The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, which began in mid-April, has claimed at least 4,350 lives and wounded more than 10,000 others, according to the latest UN estimates.

– IANS

An American, A Lithuanian and A Georgian Walk Into the Ukrainian Govt.

[SEE: Obama’s Russian War Resolution Passes By 411 to 23]

Ukraine’s new finance minister is a former U.S. State Department employee who graduated from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Even though the struggling country’s new cabinet now contains three high-profile foreigners, it remains the focus of a crude internal power struggle that will hamper crucial economic changes and could lead to a financial meltdown.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who visited Kiev two weeks ago, told President Petro Poroshenko that Ukraine needed to form a new government “within days, not weeks.” After an International Monetary Fund mission concluded its work Nov. 25, the IMF stated that “discussions will continue after the new Ukrainian government is formed.” That meant Ukraine wouldn’t find out when it might receive the much-needed next tranche of an IMF bailout package until Poroshenko complied with Biden’s wishes.

Pro-European politicians who form the ruling coalition rushed to find a compromise on the attribution of cabinet portfolios. The resulting lineup is a motley crew.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whose party performed unexpectedly well in October’s parliamentary elections, remains prime minister. The coalition parties distributed the rest of the 19 posts on a quota system, and Poroshenko had the parliament approve the lineup en bloc, avoiding individual votes for each minister.

Poroshenko’s party proposed three foreigners:  Natalie Jaresko, a U.S. citizen, for finance minister, Lithuanian Aivaras Abromavicius for economics minister and Georgian Alexander Kvitashvili for health minister. Poroshenko granted them Ukrainian citizenship yesterday, hours before the parliamentary vote that approved the appointments. The nationalities of the three officials sent a clear message: Ukraine aspires to be a U.S. ally and a good IMF client, and it admires the reforms that rid Lithiuania and Georgia of their Soviet economic and cultural heritage. The choice of personalities, however, is less straightforward.

Jaresko, who grew up in a Ukrainian family in Chicago, has lived in Kiev for 20 years. She started her career in Ukraine distributing U.S. government aid to small and medium-sized businesses, then co-founded a small private equity firm, Horizon Capital, which has invested $255 million in Ukrainian companies. She has a few successful exits under her belt and an untarnished reputation as a thorough and enthusiastic manager, as well as a competent financier. She has no experience of the convoluted Ukrainian budget, however, and the finance minister will have to cut spending by about 10 percent of gross domestic product within weeks, a group of international economists recently concluded. Jaresko will need to learn quickly and act decisively in an unfamiliar, antiquated bureaucratic environment with elaborate, ritualistic paper-based procedures and lots of political traps.

Abromavicius, too, was living in Kiev at the time of his appointment. A partner at the Swedish investment company East Capital, he is married to a Ukrainian. But he also was responsible for managing East Capital’s Russian investments, the core of the company’s business. East Capital Russia Fund has been underperforming for a while: Its five-year return is minus 6.63 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and the fund’s net asset value is down 55 percent from its 2007 peak.

Kvitashvili, who has a U.S. master’s degree in public management, ran the Georgian Health Ministry for almost three years under former President Mikheil Saakashvili. Yet, according to Larisa Burakova, who wrote a book about Saakashvili’s libertarian reforms, Kvitashvili had no part in designing and implementing the large-scale privatization of Georgia’s health care system.

Kakha Bendukidze, the real architect of Georgia’s economic transformation, told me in one of his last interviews before he died last month that Ukraine had to get rid of many of its ministries and state agencies. “Who needs them when the government’s sole function these days is to take money from the International Monetary Fund and pass them on in payment for Russian gas?” he asked.

The Vox Ukraine group of pro-Western experts recently suggested cutting at least 20 ministries and agencies. Doing that, however, would have made it difficult for coalition parties to reach a compromise because there would have been fewer portfolios to hand out.

The new cabinet even added one portfolio — an Information Ministry. It will be headed By Yuri Stets, who ran Poroshenko’s Channel 5 TV and is a close friend of the president. Stets had recently vowed not to accept any appointment from Poroshenko because it would be seen as a conflict of interest. Now he is setting up an agency whose goal will be to counter Russia’s anti-Ukrainian propaganda.

The new appointment created a furor among Ukrainian journalists, who fear Poroshenko has created a ministry for censorship and propaganda. Even a top Poroshenko administration official recently said Ukraine “doesn’t earn enough” to set up another ministry.

There was another reason for Poroshenko’s dismissal of legislators’ requests that each minister be approved separately: Such a procedure would have buried the coalition compromise. The populist Radical Party, for example, proposed Valery Voshchevsky, the former chief of Ukraine’s perennially corrupt road construction and maintenance agency under deposed President Viktor Yanukovich, for deputy prime minister. Voshchevsky’s chances of separate approval would have been slim, but now he has the job.

Some pro-European legislators, including those elected on Poroshenko’s party ticket, were openly dismayed at this heavy-handedness. Borys Filatov, a close ally of billionaire Igor Kolomoiskiy, called the vote a “disgrace” and an example of “non-transparent Byzantian policies.” “It’s a great way to mess up something the country badly needs, no matter what pretty words are used to cover it up,” he wrote on Facebook.

An official in Poroshenko’s party told me the president’s plan was to undermine Yatsenyuk’s power over the cabinet and perhaps allow him to fail before Team Poroshenko moved in. At the same time, Poroshenko faces a growing rift with Kolomoiskiy, who runs the important Dnepropetrovsk region and finances much of Ukraine’s war effort in the rebellious eastern regions. This political maneuvering has nothing to do with driving down Ukraine’s 20 percent inflation, cutting exorbitant government spending on pensions and energy subsidies and eliminating corruption. According to Transparency International‘s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index, Ukraine is the 142nd most corrupt of 175 countries, up just two spots from 2013, when Yanukovych’s shameless regime ran the country for personal enrichment. Pro-European Ukraine, according to the index, is more corrupt than Vladimir Putin’s Russia, in 136th place.

Although the new cabinet lineup makes the requisite symbolic nods to Ukraine’s Western orientation, and provides the IMF with a comfortable negotiating partner in Jaresko, it is another step toward turning Ukraine into a failed state. The “revolution of dignity” that freed many Ukrainians from a feeling of inferiority early this year will probably need to continue before the country finally sheds the burden of its Soviet past.

To contact the author on this story:
Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Max Berley at mberley@bloomberg.net

Putin Cancels South Stream/Netanyahu Peddles His Hot Gas To Europe

[When the Noble Energy company first discovered the massive Tamar and Leviathan gas fields off the shore of Israel, there was no foreseeable buyer of the “gas bonanza.”  It didn’t take long after for the PTB (powers that be) to destroy Russia’s energy franchise to Europe, by disrupting principle flow lines, running mainly through Ukraine.  Due to EU anti-Russian sanctions making the South Stream pipeline impossible, Putin cancelled the project.  In steps Israel (SEE:  Gazprom Signs 20-Year LNG Purchase Deal with Israel).  This is the first, concrete example of the EU cutting its own throat, to bow to Imperialist-Zionist directives.  Stoking the fires in Ukraine has always been the key to US Imperialist war plans for Russia.  If Israel captures the southern European gas market, beating-out both NABUCCO and SOUTH STREAM, then rest assured, that there will be no opposition to them running a four-foot diameter undersea gas line through the eastern Mediterranean war zone. 

It is logical to suspect, at this point, to label the Ukrainian civil war as a Mossad operation.  After all, key elements of the Maidan movement are composed of Jewish militants, some even forming their own brigades (SEE:  In Kiev, an Israeli army vet led a street-fighting unit).]

Ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Israel to meet Energy Union Commissioner

Cyprus mail

Ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Israel to meet Energy Union Commissioner

Energy Ministers of Cyprus, Greece and Israel will meet next Monday with EU Commissioner on Energy Union Maros Sefcovic to promote a joint project on a pipeline to transfer natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean offshore fields to Europe.

Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis told the Cyprus News Agency that the three Ministers had signed a letter requesting a meeting with Sefcovic.
The three Ministers will promote a planned pipeline connecting Israel Cyprus, Greece with Europe in view of the new call by the European Commission for projects of common interest in the first quarter of 2015.
Sources told CNA that the ministers would request the approval of the project which emerged after a merger of two separate projects (Cyprus Trans Med pipeline and Greece`s East Med pipeline) to be implemented by the Greek Gas Corporation (DEPA as a project of common interest (PCI)  that will give access to EU funding for technical and feasibility studies.
Projects that will be considered as PCI’s will be entitled to request funding from the Connecting Europe Facility with a budget of €5.85 billion.
The same sources made clear that only new reserves would be channeled through the pipeline, as Cyprus is in consultations with Egypt for a possible sale of the Aphrodite reservoir (estimated at 4.5 trillion cubic feet) located in block 12 of Cyprus` EEZ. Egyptian Minister Serif Ismail said during a Cyprus, Greece and Egypt Energy Ministers meeting that his country could absorb Cyprus` natural gas reserves.
Italy`s ENI is carrying out an exploratory drilling in block 9 with the results expected by January the latest. ENI also has been granted concessions for exploratory drilling in blocs 2 and 3. French TOTAL which has concessions over blocks 10 and 11 will begin exploratory drilling in the second half of 2015.