Ukraine conscripts prefer going home to joining rebels
President Petro Poroshenko is expected to be joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande on the scheduled phone call to the Russian leader on the eve of the lifting of the ceasefire.Sunday’s teleconference is primarily meant to check on any visible shift in Moscow before the European Union and Washington consider unleashing biting sanctions against Russia’s financial and defence sectors the following day.Both Ukraine and its Western allies have been seeking concrete steps from Russia to back up the ceasefire Kiev extended with the militias on Friday in the hope of calming a deadly insurgency sparked by the country’s new westward course.The call also comes after pro-Kremlin rebels in eastern Ukraine on Saturday released four monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) — one woman and three men — after being pressed by Putin to meet the terms of the tenuous truce with Kiev.The OSCE observers looked tired but relieved as they were handed over by heavily-armed rebels to one of the group’s representative at a hotel in the eastern hub city of Donetsk.View galleryRefugees from east Ukraine are sheltered in a refugee camp in the city of Blagodatny, some 150 km fr …”We are releasing the last four observers who were being held on the territory of the Lugansk People’s Republic,” the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic told reporters.”We consider that we have fulfilled all our obligations,” Oleksandr Borodai said.- Ceasefire ‘only the start’ -The first group of observers detained on May 26 in the Donetsk province was handed over to the OSCE on Thursday.The Vienna-based organisation said the second team includes nationals from Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Russia.View galleryRussia’s President Vladimir Putin speaks at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2014 …”We welcome the return of the last four of the missing OSCE special monitoring teammates after a month away,” deputy mission head in Ukraine, Mark Etherington, said in a statement.”The detention of OSCE monitors has substantially constrained the operations of the mission in eastern Ukraine at a time when a flow of objective information has never been more important.”The OSCE — a 57-nation body created in the 1970s to oversee European security during the Cold War — has played a central role in trying to mediate an end to a 12-week insurgency convulsing the ex-Soviet state.Germany also commented on the release of the OSCE team, expressing relief and stressing the need to maintain the ceasefire.The extended ceasefire „is a positive sign but it is only the start of a process,” said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in a statement.View galleryA member of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) detained by pro-Russian s …”The weapons must be silenced in a lasting way to give negotiations a chance of succeeding,” he said.- Monday truce deadline -After signing a landmark trade and political association accord with the European Union on Friday, Poroshenko decided to extend the fragile ceasefire until Monday evening.He added the condition that Russia requires the insurgents to return border crossings to Ukrainian forces and set up a monitoring mechanism for a long-term truce to halt the rebel uprising that has already claimed 450 lives.A spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern campaign told AFP Saturday that the past day of fighting had seen three soldiers killed and six others wounded outside the rebel stronghold city of Slavyansk.View galleryPeople wearing vyshyvankas, traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts, take part in a Vyshyvanka Marc …”Everyone knows that a bad peace is better than a good war,” Defence Minister Mykhailo Koval told Ukraine’s UNIAN news agency.Putin has publicly backed the ceasefire’s extensions and promoted direct talks between Poroshenko and top rebel commanders.But the West wants the Kremlin chief to call on the fighters to lay down their weapons and relinquish control of state buildings they had seized across a dozen eastern cities and towns.EU leaders agreed at their Brussels summit Friday „to reconvene at any time to adopt further significant restrictive measures if a detailed list of concrete steps are not taken by Russia and the separatists by Monday”.The United States stressed that it was also ready to act at any point.But public statements in Russia have thus far suggested that it was busy preparing an economic counter-offensive against Ukraine that would put up prohibitive barriers to its trade.Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that Moscow would treat Ukraine and the ex-Soviet states of Georgia of Moldova, which also signed EU trade deals on Friday, „based on one criterium — how (the agreements) might hurt Russian trade”.Russian and EU ministers have tentatively agreed to meet on July 11 to discuss how Moscow’s concerns might best be addressed.Ukraine, Europe leaders talk with Moscow before ceasefire expiresUkraine, Europe leaders talk with Moscow before ceasefire expires
Three Ukrainian military killed in rebel attack – spokesman
Ukraine and Europe Sign the Trade Deal That Sparked a RevolutionProtesters gathered in Kiev’s Independence Square in December after the former president rejected a deal with the European Union. Nearly seven months later, Ukraine finally signed that pact.Image: GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty ImagesThe deal that started a revolution in Ukraine has finally come into fruition.Ukraine’s newly elected president signed a historic trade and economic agreement with the European Union on Friday that more closely aligns the country with Western powers — something that many Ukrainians have been fighting for since November and a deal that Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to avoid.See also: Ukraine’s Underground Army of CiviliansA beaming Petro Poroshenko called it „maybe the most important day for my country” since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko holds up a pen after a signing ceremony at an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, June 27, 2014.Image: Olivier Hoslet, Pool/Associated PressThe agreement lets businesses in former Soviet republics Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia trade freely in any of the EU’s 28 member nations without tariffs or restrictions, as long as their goods and practices meet EU standards. Likewise, goods and services from the EU will be sold more easily and cheaply in the three countries.Shedding the Soviet identity But for Ukrainians, the deal represents a shift in cultural mindset, shedding its Soviet identity for a new one.Former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych backed out of the same deal last year under pressure from Russia. He turned to Moscow shortly after for a $15 billion bailout that guaranteed to keep the country under Putin’s thumb for years to come.Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians poured onto Kiev’s streets to protest the former president’s abrupt decision. Known as Euromaidan, the three-month-long anti-government demonstrations ebbed and flowed until they came to a head in February when government troops in Kiev killed nearly 100 people in a span of just two days. Those clashes led to a bloody week that ended in the toppling of Yanukovych’s regime. The ousted president then fled the country for Russia.Since the ouster, Russia has hovered over Ukraine like a dark shadow. Just weeks later, masked troops—which turned out to be Russian soldiers—started popping up in Crimea, a peninsula in the country’s south that is home to a majority of Russian-language speakers.Although Ukraine’s interim government sent in a few troops in an attempt to quell a takeover, the unorganized effort was unsuccessful. Under the gun, Crimea held a referendum and was annexed from Ukraine. Today, Russia considers Crimea its territory, however, the EU and other Western powers have stated that they refuse to recognize it as such.See also: In Pictures, Crimea’s New Russian IdentityAt the same time, pro-Russian insurgents started emerging throughout the eastern regions of Ukraine, inciting bloodshed and even more tension with Russia. Some 110,000 Ukrainians have fled this year for Russia. Another 54,000 have left their homes but remained in the country as Ukraine fights separatist rebels, according to the UN refugee agency.Though there is now technically a cease-fire in place, a permanent peaceful solution will be one of Poroshenko’s biggest tasks as Ukraine’s new president.But for now, he can bask in at least one huge victory this week with this trade agreement, which European Commission experts say will boost Ukraine’s national income by $1.6 billion a year.Ukraine will use “the opportunity to modernize,” the president said, stressing the importance of peace and security for its future and that of the region.He also boldly declared the signing of the deal to be the first step toward Ukraine’s full-fledged EU membership.“The association agreement is an instrument of preparations for our future accession to the EU. The EU is not only an association of individual countries. Rather, the EU is an idea, it is compliance with European standards,” Poroshenko said.Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, center, poses with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, left, and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, right on June 27, 2014. Poroshenko signed a deal with the EU on Friday that more closely aligns the nation with Western powers.Image: AP Photo/Associated PressPoroshenko, however, will eventually have to overcome Russian opposition to this deal.”There will undoubtedly be serious consequences for Ukraine and Moldova’s signing,” Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said.Putin didn’t immediately comment on the EU deal. Over the past week, Putin, whose regime has been trampled with sanctions from Western nations over his involvement in Ukraine, has made moves showing his interest in de-escalating the conflict in the east.”The most important thing is to guarantee a long-term regime of cease-fire as a precondition for meaningful talks between the Kiev authorities and representatives of the southeast (of Ukraine),” Putin said Friday.The United Nations estimated 423 people were killed in the conflict between April 15 and June 20. As Poroshenko put pen to paper in Brussels, reports came in from eastern Ukraine of the deaths of four servicemen during clashes with separatist fighters early Friday outside the city of Kramatorsk.The cease-fire was set to expire at 10 p.m. local time on Friday, but Poroshenko extended it for three days.Additional reporting by Christopher Miller in Artemovsk, UkraineTopics: Politics, russia, Ukraine , US & World, World
Pro-Russia rebels release second Ukraine monitor group
Both Ukraine and its Western allies have been seeking concrete steps from Russia to back up the ceasefire Kiev extended with the militias on Friday in the hope of calming a deadly insurgency sparked by the country’s new westward course.And the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said it had learned that a second team of its unarmed observers had just been released by gunmen in the separatist rustbelt region of Lugansk.”Our Lugansk-based team of 4 monitors have been released after 1 month in captivity,” the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine said on its Facebook page.Two groups of unarmed observers from the Vienna-based European security organisation — totalling eight international monitors and a Ukrainian translator — were detained at roadblocks three days apart in late May.Rebel commanders on Thursday presented the group had detained on May 26 in the Donetsk region to the press without specifying who had abducted them or why.View galleryArmed men protect the pro-Russian self-proclaimed Prime Minister of the „Donetsk People’s R …But the second team the disappeared in the neighbouring Lugansk province on May 29 appeared to have been nabbed by a different militia and negotiations for their freedom intensified in the recent days.The OSCE — a 57-nation group created in the 1970s to oversee European security during the Cold War — has played a central role in trying to mediate an end to a 12-week insurgency convulsing the ex-Soviet state.It has helped broker talks between Moscow and Kiev as well as indirect contacts between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s representative and the heads of the self-proclaimed „People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk.- Monday truce deadline -Poroshenko returned triumphant from Brussels on Friday having opened the way to Ukraine’s eventual membership in the European Union by signing the final chapters of a landmark free trade and political association accord.View galleryRussia’s President Vladimir Putin speaks at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2014 …The 1,200-page tome spells out the minute details of the terms under which the splintered ex-Soviet nation will slip from the Kremlin’s embrace and tie its future to European economic standards and values on human rights.But Poroshenko had ordered his top security chiefs to meet him at the airport on landing in order to make a fateful decision about prolonging an expiring truce with rebels who have seized effective control of Ukraine’s industrial east.The rebel uprising has killed nearly 450 people and is viewed by both Kiev and its Western allies as Putin’s revenge for the February toppling of a leader who had ditched the very EU accord Poroshenko had signed in Brussels.Poroshenko ultimately decided to extend the shaky ceasefire until Monday evening under the condition that Russia requires the insurgents to return border crossings to Ukrainian forces and set up a monitoring mechanism for a long-term truce.A spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern campaign told AFP that the past day of fighting saw three soldiers killed and six others wounded outside the rebel stronghold city of Slavyansk.View galleryPro-Russia armed separatists man a checkpoint, standing next to a Russian flag (L) and a flag presen …”Everyone knows that a bad peace is better than a good war,” Defence Minister Mykhailo Koval told Ukraine’s UNIAN news agency.- Pressure on Putin -Poroshenko is expected to enlist the support of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande when he places a scheduled call to Putin on the eve of the ceasefire’s expiry.Sunday’s teleconference — the second in four days — is primarily meant to check on any visible shift in Moscow before the European Union and Washington consider unleashing biting sanctions against Russia’s financial and defence sectors the following day.Putin has publically backed the ceasefire’s extensions and promoted direct talks between Poroshenko and top rebel commanders.But the West wants the Kremlin chief to call on the fighters to lay down their weapons and relinquish control of state buildings they had seized across a dozen eastern cities and towns.EU leaders agreed at their Brussels summit „to reconvene at any time to adopt further significant restrictive measures if a detailed list of concrete steps are not taken by Russia and the separatists by Monday”.The United States stressed that it was also ready to act at any point.”We can make decisions at the time of our choosing on sanctions, and we have done so and will continue to do so,” US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.- Russian retaliation -But public statements in Russia have thus far suggested that it was busy preparing an economic counter-offensive against Ukraine that would put up prohibitive barriers to its trade.Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that Moscow would treat Ukraine and the ex-Soviet states of Georgia of Moldova that signed their own EU deals on Friday „based on one criterium — how (the agreements) might hurt Russian trade”.Russian and EU ministers have tentatively agreed to meet on July 11 to discuss how Moscow’s concerns might be best addressed.
Three Ukrainian military killed in rebel attack: spokesman
KIEV (Reuters) – Three members of the Ukrainian military were killed on Saturday when pro-Russian separatists attacked their post near the eastern flashpoint city of Slaviansk with small arms and mortar fire, a military spokesman said.The reported attack on the post manned by members of the government’s „anti-terrorist operation” took place despite a government ceasefire, which was extended on Friday until Monday night.”As a result of the (rebel) fighters shooting at the post near Slaviansk, three members of the Ukrainian forces were killed and a fourth was wounded,” the spokesman, Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.President Petro Poroshenko announced the extension on Friday night, partly at the urging of some European leaders, after returning to Kiev from a European Union summit in Brussels where he signed a landmark free trade pact.(Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
Four European monitors released by rebels in east Ukraine
Kiev (AFP) – The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Saturday that pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have released four of the group’s monitors they had detained at the end of May.”We can confirm 4 members of our Donetsk-based team are now released after 32 days in captivity,” the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine said on its Facebook page.Two groups of unarmed observers from the Vienna-based European security organisation — totalling eight international monitors and a Ukrainian translator — were detained at roadblocks three days apart in late May.Separatist leaders on Thursday freed the group they had detained on May 26 in the Donetsk region.But the second team seized on May 29 in the neighbouring Lugansk province appeared to have been abducted by a different militia and negotiations for their release intensified in the recent days.A Donetsk rebel spokeswoman told AFP that the second team would be presented to reporters at a local hotel later on Saturday.Russian President Vladimir Putin publically called on the pro-Kremlin militia to free all people held against their will under the terms of a temporary ceasefire in the nearly three-month insurgency agreed with Kiev at the end of last week.Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko extended the truce on Saturday morning until 1900 GMT Monday.
Russia accuses US of fueling Ukrainian crisis
Speaking in televised remarks Saturday, Sergey Lavrov said that „our American colleagues still prefer to push the Ukrainian leadership toward a confrontational path.”He added that chances for settling the Ukrainian crisis would have been higher if it only depended on Russia and Europe.Lavrov spoke after Friday’s European Union summit, which decided not to immediately impose new sanctions on Russia for destabilizing eastern Ukraine, but gave the Russian government and pro-Russian insurgents there until Monday to take steps to improve the situation.Ukraine on Friday signed a free-trade pact with the EU, the very deal that a former Ukrainian president dumped under pressure from Moscow in November, fueling huge protests that eventually drove him from power. Moscow responded by annexing the mainly Russian-speaking Crimean Peninsula in March, and a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine erupted the month after, leading to the developments that have brought Russia-West relations to their lowest point since the Cold War times.The U.S. and the EU have slapped travel bans and asset freezes on members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and threatened to impose more crippling sanctions against entire sectors of Russia’s economy if the Kremlin fails to de-escalate the crisis.View galleryPro-Russian fighters stand next to a truck with a Russian flag, inside a captured Ukrainian National …The EU leaders on Friday said Russia and the rebels should take steps to ease the violence, including releasing all captives, retreating from border checkpoints, agreeing on a way to verify the cease-fire and launching „substantial negotiations” on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s peace plan.The weeklong cease-fire, which both sides have been accused of violating, expired at 10 p.m. local time (1900 GMT), but Poroshenko quickly declared its extension until 10 p.m. local time Monday. He warned, however, that the cease-fire could be terminated in areas where rebels violate it.A leader of the insurgents, Alexander Borodai, promised to abide by the extended cease-fire after Friday’s troika talks that included a former Ukrainian president who represented the Kiev government, the Russian ambassador and an OSCE envoy.He rejected the EU leaders’ demand to retreat from three checkpoints on the border with Russia captured by the rebels, but invited OSCE to send its monitors to the border crossings and any other areas in the east.Borodai also said that the rebels have offered the government that the conflicting parties free all the captives they hold. He demanded that the Ukrainian government pull back its forces as a condition for holding meaningful talks to settle the crisis.View galleryA pro-Russian fighter smokes as he guards an entrance of a captured Ukrainian National Guard unit in …Ukrainian Defense Minister Mykhailo Koval was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that the situation in the east was largely quiet overnight and there were no casualties among Ukrainian troops despite sporadic shooting. But later on Saturday, Ukrainian military spokesman Olexiy Dmitrashkovskiy said that three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and four others were wounded in a rebel shelling near Slovyansk, a key flashpoint in the insurgency, Interfax reported.Rebels, in turn, claimed that Ukrainian troops tried to capture one of the checkpoints on the Russian border, which they control, but were rebuffed.Russian officials said that several Ukrainian shells landed on Russian territory early Saturday, and one shell fragment hit the border checkpoint on the Russian side of the border, but there were no injuries.The insurgents also descended on a Ukrainian National Guards unit in Donetsk, demanding that the troops leave or join the rebels’ ranks. None of the troops voiced a desire to switch sides. There was no fighting there.As part of his peace plan, Poroshenko this week also submitted a set of constitutional amendments that would give broader powers to the regions and allow local authorities to have more say on such issues as language and culture. In an address to the nation Saturday, he voiced hope that the move would strengthen the country’s unity.View galleryA pro-Russian fighter sits under a Russian flag as he guards the entrance of a captured Ukrainian Na …Lavrov acknowledged that Russia has some leverage with the rebels, pointing at their move this week to release four observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe after weeks of captivity, but claimed that Moscow’s influence is limited.”There are reasons to believe that they hear us on other aspects of Russian position regarding the crisis in Ukraine, but that doesn’t mean that they immediately move to heed our calls,” he said. „These people have their own vision, it’s their land and they want to be its masters, they want to negotiate with the central government on what terms it can be done.”Four other OSCE observers are still being held, but Borodai promised Friday to free them „in the nearest days.”_Balint Szlanko contributed to this report from Donetsk, Ukraine.
As World Leaders Discuss Russian Sanctions, BP and Rosneft Sign $2 Billion Deal
Thus far, sanctions have been only against individual officials, which make a statement more than anything else. They do not prevent companies from doing business with Russia. The nature of any further sanctions would be economic, hitting Russia where it hurts.Russia’s big business is oil and they haven’t been shy about the global power of their energy market. While Europe and the United States debate whether or not to further sanctions into the economic realm, the oil industry is taking a very strict „business as usual” approach. Rex Tillerson traveled to Moscow to speak on a World Petroleum Congress panel aside Rosneft’s Igor Sechin (who is sanctioned) earlier this month, regardless of government officials opposing the trip. Business lobbies in the U.S. have also said they would oppose economic sanctions against Russia, worried they would affect American jobs and revenue streams.RELATED: Philip Morris Cuts Earnings Estimates As it Makes Moves on the E-Cig FrontSechin issued a brief statement earlier this week about the potential negative impact of further sanctions against Russia on Germany’s economy. Rosneft has signed some impressive deals worldwide recently, especially in the regions looking to sanction their homeland. Rosneft is pursuing a multi billion dollar drilling deal with Cuba’s national oil company, they have started drilling on a $900 billion Arctic deal with Exxon and now, they have signed a long term deal with B.P.The deal with B.P. is instrumental not only because of its size, 12 million tons for around $2 billion, but because of its longevity. Rosneft will supply B.P. with oil and oil products over the next five years. What is more, Rosneft has demanded prepayment. The prepaid amount will be at least $1.5 billion, the majority of the total deal. In the event of economic sanctions, $1.5 billion dollars essentially disappear. B.P. will throw around all of the weight it has in Washington to prevent this from happening. RELATED: In Light of High Frequency Trading Lawsuit, Big Banks Pull Away from Barclays Dark PoolThe exact pricing is being worked out now and deliveries on the contract are set to begin in July. B.P. C.E.O. Bob Dudley has made a strategic business and political move, though he told reporters, „I am working here with Rosneft. It’s business between the companies. I don’t comment on personal sanctions.” Sechin offered a similar comment, praising the quality of oil, stability and profitability of the agreement rather than the political risk. Rosneft is making it extremely difficult for the U.S. to issue economic sanctions against Russia. Their deals are large, long term and extremely lucrative. With this B.P. deal, U.S. officials have another big reason to avoid economic sanctions. This article was originally published at http://www.thewire.com/business/2014/06/as-world-leaders-discuss-russian-sanctions-bp-and-rosneft-sign-2-billion-deal/373624/
EU files WTO complaint over Russian pork embargo
Ukraine signs historic trade deal with European Union
„Russia will not remain passive to the attempts by some groups to spread terrorism in the region,” Ryabkov told journalists after meeting with President Bashar al-Assad.Sunni militants, led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) which is active in both Syria and Iraq, have seized vast territory north and west of Baghdad since launching their offensive two weeks ago.Ryabkov, whose country is Assad’s main backer, did not elaborate on what steps Russia might take.”The situation is very dangerous in Iraq and the foundations of the Iraqi state are under threat,” he said.Ryabkov also reiterated Moscow’s position that the crises in Syria and Iraq must be resolved „through a genuine national dialogue”.Asked about Washington’s decision to support moderate rebels in Syria, Ryabkov said: „There can be no alternative to a political solution.”He added: „We reject this US policy. It is in everybody’s interest, including the Americans, to act responsibly on Syria.”President Barack Obama has asked US lawmakers to authorise a $500 million plan to arm and train the Syrian opposition, which has been fighting both Assad’s troops and the jihadist ISIL.Ryabkov said Damascus had taken a „responsible” decision in handing over its chemical weapons arsenal, while calling on Israel to „abide by” the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Gaza rocket hits building in southern Israel
A military spokesman said the building was a factory, and police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said four workers were able to escape after the attack.”Once the fire was extinguished, we began a search of the interior to determine whether there was anyone still there,” he said.The privately run Channel 10 television station said the building was a paint factory and that one employee was slightly injured and taken to hospital.Four other rockets landed in the fields without causing any damage, an army spokesman said, noting that 23 rockets and shells have been fired from Gaza over the past two weeks.On Friday, two Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were killed in an Israeli air raid after a bomb exploded near troops manning Israel’s security fence.Rocket attacks from the coastal enclave late Friday were followed by more air raids overnight.Of four early morning strikes on Gaza, two targeted „sites of terrorist activities” and the others hit arms depots and production facilities, a military spokesman said.Palestinian medics said the air raids that killed the two men struck near the home of Ismail Haniya, the former Hamas premier who stepped down on June 2 when Gaza and the West Bank set up a unity government.Israel has put Hamas under intense pressure since the June 12 disappearance of three Israeli teenagers it says were kidnapped in the West Bank by members of the Islamist movement.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged the international community to press Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to end his reconciliation with Hamas, citing the alleged kidnapping as proof that the movement’s „terrorist” activities make it an unsuitable political partner.Five Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli security sweep to find the teenagers and more than 400 have been arrested, mostly Hamas members.Troops have also raided some 2,100 buildings in the West Bank, a military spokesman said.
Angry Kosovo Serbs call Serbian president „traitor”
The Defense Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department rules, said the missiles were fired from Wonsan and are presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles. The official said North Korea fired the missiles without designating no-sail zones, which the South Korean military views as provocative. South Korean media quoted officials as saying the projectiles appeared to be Scud missiles.North Korea regularly test-fires missiles and artillery, both to refine its weapons and to express its anger over various developments in Seoul and Washington. North Korea has in recent days criticized alleged South Korean artillery firing drills near a disputed maritime boundary in the Yellow Sea that has been the scene of several bloody skirmishes between the rival nations in recent years. The missile displays also come days before the leader of North Korea’s only major ally, Chinese President Xi Jinping, is set to meet with South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Seoul and Beijing have long pressed North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions.North Korea said Friday that leader Kim Jong Un guided test launches of a newly developed precision-guided missiles, in a likely reference to three short-range projectiles South Korean officials say the North fired a day earlier.It’s not possible to tell if this assertion about the new missiles is an exaggeration, something North Korea has frequently done in the past when trumpeting its military capability, analysts say. Its army is one of the world’s largest but is believed to be badly supplied and forced to use outdated equipment.Still, the impoverished North devotes much of its scarce resources to missile and nuclear programs that threaten South Korea, Japan and tens of thousands of U.S. troops in the region. Outside analysts say North Korea has developed a handful of crude nuclear devices and is working toward building a warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile, although most experts say that goal may take years to achieve.After a brief period of warming ties earlier this year, animosity has risen on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has in recent months threatened South Korea’s president, calling her a prostitute, and the South has vowed to hit North Korea hard if provoked. Pyongyang conducted a series of missile and artillery tests earlier this year in response to annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises it says it considers preparations for an invasion. North Korea also test-fired two medium-range ballistic missiles and exchanged artillery fire with South Korea near the disputed boundary in the Yellow Sea.On Thursday, North Korea’s army accused South Korea of firing shells into the North’s waters near the sea boundary.Both Koreas routinely conduct artillery drills near the maritime boundary. A North Korean artillery attack in 2010 killed four South Koreans on a front-line Yellow Sea island.The Korean Peninsula is still technically in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty.
Libyan suspect pleads not guilty in Benghazi attack
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Libyan militia leader pleaded not guilty in a U.S. federal court on Saturday to a terrorism charge in the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that killed four Americans.Ahmed Abu Khatallah was transferred to the U.S. District Court in Washington on Saturday morning from a Navy warship where he had been held since his June 15 capture by U.S. special operations forces in Libya.He was charged at an afternoon hearing with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists resulting in death in the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi.The Sept. 11, 2012, attack triggered a political firestorm for President Barack Obama, with Republicans accusing his administration of misrepresenting the circumstances and of lax protection for diplomats.The charge against Khatallah includes malicious damage to and destruction of U.S. property by fires and explosives. It carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, the Justice Department said. The department said it intended to file additional charges shortly.Khatallah was not shackled when he appeared before Magistrate Judge John Facciola and kept his hands behind him as he gave answers through an interpreter. He wore a dark hoodie and black trousers and had long gray hair and a gray beard.”You conspired, that is to say, you agreed with other people, to provide material support and resources to terrorists, including yourself, knowing that support and those resources would be used in killing a person in the course of an attack on a federal facility involving the use of firearms and dangerous weapons,” Facciola told the defendant.The judge appointed a public defender and Khatallah was taken out of the courthouse in a motorcade after the 10-minute hearing. U.S. officials did not say where he would be held.Federal charges filed against him in July 2013 but kept under court seal until this month also included killing a person on U.S. property and a firearms violation.There was heightened security around the federal courthouse building, which is blocks from the U.S. Capitol and across the street from the National Gallery of Art, prime tourist destinations in Washington. Two or three armed U.S. marshals patrolled the perimeter of the building.MILITARY TO CIVILIAN CUSTODYKhatallah was taken aboard the USS New York, an amphibious transport ship, after his seizure in a raid on the outskirts of Benghazi. At the time of Khatallah’s capture, a U.S. official said he was expected to be questioned by an interrogation team at sea. The unit seeks information from suspects that might prevent future attacks.Khatallah was in U.S. military custody for nearly two weeks before being transferred into the American civilian court system. He was transferred to U.S. soil by helicopter, a U.S. official said.“Now that Ahmed Abu Khatallah has arrived in the United States, he will face the full weight of our justice system,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement. “We will prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant’s alleged role in the attack that killed four brave Americans in Benghazi.”Khatallah denied in a Reuters interview in October 2012 that he was a leader of Ansar al-Sharia, an Islamist group Washington accuses of carrying out the assault on the consulate.His capture was a victory for Obama, who has been accused by Republicans of playing down the role of al Qaeda in the Benghazi attacks for political reasons and of being slow to deliver on promises of justice.Republicans said then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to take steps to ensure the safety of American diplomatic personnel, an issue that is still resonating as Clinton considers running for U.S. president in 2016.Khatallah’s capture also led to Republican criticism, with some lawmakers calling for him to be taken to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for military prosecution. Obama has sought to close down the Guantanamo prison and his policy has been to try terrorism suspects caught abroad in the U.S. justice system.Most terrorism suspects tried in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have been prosecuted at federal courts in New York and Alexandria, Virginia.FBI Director James Comey said capturing Khatallah and bringing him to the United States was a big step forward in the Benghazi investigation, but the FBI’s work was not over. „This case remains one of our top priorities and we will continue to pursue all others who participated in this brazen attack on our citizens and our country,” Comey said.(Additional reporting by David Ingram, Jonathan Ernst and Kevin Fogarty; Editing by Frances Kerry)
Bosnia marks end of Europe’s violent century
On June 28, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian crown prince Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, where he had come to inspect his occupying troops in the empire’s eastern province.The shots fired by Serb teenager Gavrilo Princip sparked the Great War, which was followed decades later by a second world conflict. Together the two wars cost some 80 million European their lives, ended four empires — including the Austro-Hungarian — and changed the world forever.Visiting the assassination site Saturday, Sarajevan Davud Bajramovic, 67, said that in order to hold a second of silence for every person killed just during WWI in Europe, „we would have to stand silently for two years.”A century later, Sarajevans again crowded the same street along the river where Princip fired his shots. And the Austrians were also back, but this time with music instead of military: The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra was scheduled to perform works of European composers reflecting the century’s catastrophic events and conclude with a symbol of unity in Europe — the joint European hymn, Beethoven’s „Ode of Joy.”The orchestra wanted to pay tribute to the history of Sarajevo, a place where religions meet, said the first violinist, Clemens Hellberg.View galleryA couple walk past a poster of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, in the Bosnian town of …Austrian President Heinz Fischer said Europeans „have learnt that no problem can be solved by war.”The continent’s violent century started in Sarajevo and ended in Sarajevo with the 1992-95 war that took 100,000 Bosnian lives.”If anything good can be found in this repeating evil, it’s more wisdom and readiness to build peace and achieve peace after a century of wars,” said Bosnia’s president, Bakir Izetbegovic.The splurge of centennial concerts, speeches, lectures and exhibitions on Saturday were mostly focused on creating lasting peace and promoting unity in a country that is still struggling with similar divisions as it did 100 years ago. The rift was manifested by the Serbs marking the centennial by themselves in the part of Bosnia they control, where a performance re-enacted the assassination.As Austrian conductor Franz Welser-Moest raised his baton in Sarajevo, an actor playing Gavrilo Princip descending from heaven on angel’s wings, raised his pistol in the eastern town of Visegrad, at the border to Serbia, to kill Franz Ferdinand again in a spectacular performance designed for the occasion.View galleryA man walks by a mosaic depicting Gavrilo Princip, the Bosnian-Serb nationalist who assassinated Arc …For the Serbs, Princip was a hero who saw Bosnia as part of the Serb national territory at a time when the country was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His shots were a chance for them to include Bosnia into the neighboring Serbian kingdom — the same idea that inspired the Serbs in 1992 to fight the decision by Muslim Bosnians and Catholic Croats to declare the former republic of Bosnia independent when Serb-dominated Yugoslavia fell apart. Their desire is still to include the part of Bosnia they control into neighboring Serbia. Serbia itself flirts with both — the EU opposed unification with the Bosnian Serbs and its own EU membership candidacy.Serbian crown prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic, President Tomislav Nikolic and the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Irinej attended the ceremony in Visegrad where Serbian flags flew and the Serbian anthem was played although the town is in Bosnia.Vucic said he was proud because in Visegrad „the Serbs are protecting their good reputation.”In Sarajevo, French philosopher and writer Bernard-Henry Levy said Europe owes Bosnia because it „stood idly by” as Serb nationalists bombed besieged multiethnic Sarajevo for 3.5 years. Levy started a petition Saturday among European intellectuals requesting the EU to „pay Bosnia back” by promptly giving it full membership in the European Union because it defended European values by itself 20 years ago.”What Europe will gain from Bosnia is part of its spirit, part of its soul,” he said, referring to efforts of some Bosnians to preserve the multiethnic character of the country and resist national division.Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, a former hard-line nationalist-turned pro-EU reformer, previously said he considered going to Sarajevo for the centennial but gave up after realizing he would have to stand beside a plaque depicting Serbs as criminals.Indeed, a plaque at the entrance of the recently reconstructed Sarajevo National Library building where the concert was taking place states „Serb criminals” had set the library ablaze in 1992 along with its two million books, magazines and manuscripts.Karl von Habsburg, the grandson of the last Austrian emperor Charles I, was also attending the ceremonies.”We need united Europe and one thing is for sure: Europe will never be complete without Bosnia,” he stated.
Russia: US, EU must combat Mideast ‘terrorism’
„Russia will not stand idle toward attempts by terrorist groups to spread terrorism in regional states,” Sergei Ryabkov told reporters, apparently referring to the rapid advance of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant across eastern Syria and northern Iraq.Russia has been one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s main allies since the start of an uprising against him in March 2011. Moscow has used its veto power four times at the U.N. Security Council to prevent international sanctions on Syria.Both Russia and Assad’s government have portrayed the civil war in Syria as a struggle against foreign-backed „terrorists,” the word Damascus applies to all rebels fighting to end the Assad family’s four-decade reign.Nearly two hours after Ryabkov’s comments, a car bomb exploded in a busy market in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma, activists said. It was not immediately clear how many people were killed or wounded.The activists said the market was crowded as many people went shopping a day before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when observant Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and feast in the evenings.View galleryFILE – This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, which has bee …The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the explosion caused extensive damage. The Observatory and an activist in the nearby suburb of Saqba who goes by the name of Abu Yazan said the Islamic State is believed to be behind the blast, because of a rivalry with other rebel groups in the area.”Hospitals are full of wounded people,” Abu Yazan said via Skype.Douma, one of the most populous suburbs of Damascus, has been under rebel control for more than two years.The Islamic State has been fighting against rival rebel factions, including al-Qaida’s official affiliate, the Nusra Front, since January in battles that have left more than 6,000 people dead, according to the Observatory.Ryabkov called for confronting terrorism by „taking integral measures against radicalism and by searching for a solution to prevent the influx of fighters from abroad,” adding that terrorism will have „catastrophic repercussions” on the entire region.Thousands of foreign fighters, including hundreds from the former Soviet Union, are fighting against Assad’s forces in different parts of Syria, mainly on behalf of the Islamic State, which has carved out a sprawling enclave astride the Syrian-Iraqi border.Ryabkov praised Damascus’ „responsible” decision to give up its chemical weapons, saying that doing so has boosted Syria’s security.On Monday, Syria finished handing over to Western powers 1,300 tons of chemical weapons it acknowledged possessing, completing a deal reached last fall under threat of U.S. airstrikes.Ryabkov held talks a day earlier with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and his deputy, Faisal Mekdad.According to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, Ryabkov congratulated al-Moallem on removing „all chemical material” from the country._Mroue reported from Beirut.
Saved by the woodwork, Brazil lives another day
And it wasn’t Neymar, the country’s poster boy for this year’s World Cup, that played the key role this time. It was goalkeeper Julio Cesar, the country’s scapegoat from the last World Cup, who made several crucial saves and even got some help from the woodwork in a 3-2 penalty shootout win over Chile.With the score level at 1-1 on Saturday, Brazil was inches away from an early exit when Chile forward Mauricio Pinilla hit the crossbar in the final moments of extra time.Then, on the final kick of the match and after a pair of saves from Cesar in the shootout, Gonzalo Jara hit the post.”I believe the Brazilian people just needed this,” said Cesar, who made a mistake four years ago in South Africa that led to a quarterfinal loss. „The players, everybody else, we needed this.”The fans still have to wait to celebrate the title, however. There are three more matches to win before the home team can lay claim to a sixth World Cup title.View galleryBrazil’s David Luiz, left, and Fred celebrate after Brazil’s opening goal during the World C …”Let’s see if we can make fewer mistakes in the next matches,” Brazil coach Felipe Scolari said. „Perhaps next time we won’t be as lucky.”To be fair, it wasn’t just luck that saw Brazil through to the quarterfinals at Mineirao Stadium, which was a sea of Brazilian yellow with islands of Chilean red.Neymar, David Luiz and Marcelo scored in the shootout, and Cesar saved penalties from Pinilla and Alexis Sanchez before watching Jara’s final attempt hit the post.The game over, some Brazilian players fell to the ground, exhausted and emotionally drained. Willian, who missed a penalty for Brazil, sobbed uncontrollably, as Fred helped him to his feet.The Chileans stood still, staring into the ground, wiping the sweat off their faces.View galleryBrazil’s David Luiz, right, celebrates with his teammate Neymar after Brazil scored the opening …”Do you think I can be satisfied with the result?” Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli said. „We’ve played a hard 120 minutes even if everybody was against us in the stadium.”Brazil, which extended its 39-year unbeaten streak in home competitive matches to 61, will next face either Colombia or Uruguay in the quarterfinals.Brazil dominated the first half against Chile and took the lead when Luiz scored following a corner kick. After Sanchez equalized for Chile, Brazil had several chances to regain the lead.Neymar’s header deflected wide, Fred lifted the ball over the bar from close range and Dani Alves forced a backpedaling Claudio Bravo to make a one-hand save.But after referee Howard Webb disallowed Hulk’s second-half goal, ruling he had used his arm to control a long pass, Brazil lost the initiative to a Chile team that can leave the World Cup with pride after eliminating defending champion Spain in the group stage.View galleryChile’s Alexis Sanchez, front, scores his side’s first goal past Brazil’s Thiago Silva d …Pressing deep inside Brazil’s half, Chile pressured the home side into making mistakes or resorting to long passes to Hulk and Neymar.And, again, it was Cesar that often came up big, making a spectacular save on Charles Aranguiz’s shot to keep Chile from taking the lead in the second half.”We tried to give everything, we tried to fight for a dream, and we didn’t achieve it,” Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal said. „But we gave all our effort on the pitch.”Chile has never defeated Brazil in Brazil and hasn’t reached the World Cup quarterfinals since 1962, when it hosted the tournament.Brazil, meanwhile, has reached the quarterfinals of each World Cup since Argentina eliminated it in the second round in 1990.View galleryChile’s Alexis Sanchez (7) wipes his brow after Brazil’s David Luiz scored his side’s fi …Brazil went ahead in the 18th minute after Thiago Silva deflected Neymar’s corner kick toward the far post. Luiz was given the goal but replays showed Jara may have touched the ball before it went in.Brazil lost the lead when it failed to cope with Chile’s aggressive pressure in a throw-in situation deep inside its half of the field. Eduardo Vargas intercepted Hulk’s pass and found Sanchez on the right side of the area. The Barcelona striker scored easily with a shot toward the far post.In the end, however, it was Brazil moving on to the quarterfinals, with the hopes of a nation planted on the backs of every player.”I hope these are lessons being given to the whole population,” Scolari said. „If you make a promise, you must deliver. This is what the players are doing.”_Lineups:Brazil: Julio Cesar; Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo; Luiz Gustavo, Fernandinho (Ramires, 72), Oscar (Willian, 106); Hulk, Fred (Jo, 64), Neymar.Chile: Claudio Bravo; Mauricio Isla, Gary Medel (Jose Rojas, 108), Eugenio Mena, Francisco Silva, Gonzalo Jara; Arturo Vidal (Mauricio Pinilla, 87), Marcelo Diaz, Charles Aranguiz; Alexis Sanchez, Eduardo Vargas (Felipe Gutierrez, 57).
Suarez idolized, not blamed for Uruguay’s exit
Uruguay’s support of the banned, biting striker was steadfast on Saturday even as the team was toothless in his absence and went out of the World Cup with a 2-0 loss to Colombia.Among the Uruguay fans in the stands, in the team dressing room and in the dugout, Suarez’s global pariah status is still mystifying. To them, the 27-year-old player is not a pariah but a footballing hero, even if the bite on an opponent will prevent him representing the national team in competitive games for more than a year.”People have been after him for a long time,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said in the Maracana, echoing recent attacks on a perceived FIFA and English-language media campaign against Suarez.World football’s governing body acted swiftly after the bite on Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during Tuesday’s Group D finale, banning Suarez for four months, disrupting his Liverpool career, as well as nine international matches.”It is an outrage,” veteran defender Diego Lugano said. „It is a violation of human rights which is far beyond winning or losing a football game.”View galleryUruguay fans holds masks with the face of banned Uruguayan player Luis Suarez prior to the World Cup …While Suarez was more than 1,000 miles at home, his usual No. 9 jersey was hung in the dressing room as usual, tweeted out for the world to see by the team. Outside the Maracana, some fans pretended to bite each other, inside many watched the game wearing Suarez face masks and „Ole, ole, ole, Suarez” was sung throughout.”We all know the things that happened, but we had to take only positive things out of that situation,” Tabarez said. „In fact, it gave us a lot of strength for this game. We really wanted to win.”But apart from Suarez’s name, there was little to cheer as Uruguay fans were outnumbered by the swathes of Colombian yellow. Just like in the group stage opener when Suarez was still recovering from a knee injury, Uruguay couldn’t find a way to win in this round of 16 match without the lethal marksman, who scored twice in the victory over England.At 35, Diego Forlan made little impact up front during his 53 minutes on the pitch. Only in the closing minutes was there any intensity from the 2010 semifinalists, but Cristian Rodriguez, Maxi Pereira and Edinson Cavani were all denied.Still, though, no fan in a Uruguay shirt could be found blaming Suarez as they left the stadium.View galleryColombian supporters hold up a photo of Uruguay’s Luis Suarez before the World Cup round of 16 s …”He is not a criminal, he is a good boy,” said 43-year-old Santiago Pineyioz. „He has a problem.”Suarez has now been handed a third biting ban after previous incidents with Ajax and Liverpool.But with the FIFA sanction preventing Suarez playing in next year’s Copa America, a perception is growing in Uruguay that the country of around three million is being unfairly targeted.”It’s very easy for FIFA to punish Uruguay,” 33-year-old Jose Maria Blanco said. „They wouldn’t do it to Brazil … we don’t have the power.”It’s a sentiment that’s shared by Uruguay midfielder Egidio Arevalo.”Right now I’ve got a bitter feeling,” Arevalo said. „We really had to fight against all … because the truth is that they wanted us out of the cup long ago.”
Wimbledon at a glance
Weather: Rain prevented play on the outside courts most of the afternoon, while three matches were played under the roof at Centre Court.Schedule: There is no play on the tournament’s middle Sunday. Two men’s singles matches originally scheduled for Saturday were postponed entirely until Monday; one men’s match and two women’s matches were suspended by darkness and are to resume Monday.Men’s Seeded Winners: No. 2 Rafael Nadal, No. 4 Roger Federer, No. 8 Milos Raonic, No. 23 Tommy Robredo.Men’s Seeded Losers: No. 15 Jerzy Janowicz.Women’s Seeded Winners: No. 3 Simona Halep, No. 5 Maria Sharapova, No. 9 Angelique Kerber, No. 13 Eugenie Bouchard, No. 25 Alize Cornet.Women’s Seeded Losers: No. 1 Serena Williams, No. 20 Andrea Petkovic, No. 24 Kirsten Flipkens.Stat of the Day: 90 — Points won by both Williams and Cornet in their third-round match; Cornet 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.Quote of the Day: „I think everyone in general plays the match of their lives against me.” — Serena Williams.Monday’s Third-Round Men’s Matches: No. 9 John Isner vs. No. 19 Feliciano Lopez, No. 5 Stan Wawrinka vs. Denis Istomin, No. 10 Kei Nishikori vs. Simone Bolelli (to be completed).Monday’s Third-Round Women’s Matches: No. 11 Ana Ivanovic vs. No. 19 Sabine Lisicki (to be completed), Madison Keys vs. Yaroslava Shvedova (to be completed).Monday’s Fourth-Round Men’s Matches: No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 14 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 3 Andy Murray vs. No. 20 Kevin Anderson, No. 11 Grigo Dimitrov vs. Leonardo Mayer, No. 26 Marin Cilic vs. Jeremy Chardy.Monday’s Fourth-Round Women’s Matches: No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova, No. 5 Maria Sharapova vs. No. 9 Angelique Kerber, No. 6 Petra Kvitova vs. Peng Shuai, No. 8 Alize Cornet vs. No. 13 Eugenie Bouchard, No. 16 Caroline Wozniacki vs. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, No. 23 Lucie Safarova vs. Tereza Smitkova.Monday’s Forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 70 degrees (21 Celsius).