NATO: Russia has equipped Ukraine rebels to attack at short notice By Adrian Croft14 hours agoA fighter with the separatist self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic Army sits atop a tank at …By Adrian Croft BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO’s chief said on Monday that Russia had built up forces on the border with Ukraine and sent more military hardware into eastern Ukraine, enabling pro-Russia separatists to launch attacks with little warning if they chose.”There has been a Russian build-up, both along the borders between Russia and Ukraine but also inside eastern Ukraine, with a steady flow of heavy equipment, tanks, artillery, ammunition, air defense systems and a lot of training,” alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference.”So they have the capacity, the capability to launch new attacks with very little warning time. But of course no one can say anything with certainty about the intention.”A NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Turkey this week is due to discuss Ukraine.Relations between Russia and the West are at their lowest ebb since the end of the Cold War due to Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in March 2014 and its backing for the rebels. The West has imposed economic sanctions on Russia, triggering retaliation by Moscow.Russia denies Western and Ukrainian accusations, which they say they have documented, that it is arming the separatists.Stoltenberg said Russia’s support for the separatists was a „blatant violation” of the Minsk ceasefire accord.„INTIMIDATION” He said there had been a rise in ceasefire violations, more deaths, and obstruction of monitors.”Just the existence of these (Russian) forces along the border, but also inside eastern Ukraine, is in itself a violation of the Minsk agreement but it is also intimidating and putting pressure on Kiev and on Ukraine,” he said.NATO’s top commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, said last month that Russia might be taking advantage of a lull in fighting in eastern Ukraine to lay the groundwork for a new offensive.Ukraine has also said the threat of large-scale fighting in the east is growing.Stoltenberg urged Russia to stop supporting the separatists and called for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and for OSCE monitors to be given full access and security guarantees.He said it was „of great concern that we have seen this steady build-up of military presence and support for the separatists over such a long time”.Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will discuss the Ukraine crisis on Tuesday in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, RIA news agency quoted a diplomatic source as saying.(Editing by Kevin Liffey)
A Russian submarine may have nearly capsized a fishing boat in the Irish Sea By Jeremy Bender12 hours ago(Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images) In yet another sign of looming blowback from the past year of rising tensions between Moscow and the NATO states, a British fishing ship was almost capsized by a suspected Russian submarine at the end of April according to the New York Times.The 80-ton trawler was fishing for prawns in international waters in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Britain when an object believed to be a submarine became entangled in the ship’s nets. The ensuing moments played out like a Hollywood scene as the submarine began to tow the trawler backwards, The New York Times reports. “It was like the scene out of ‘Jaws’ when the boat took off — do you remember, the shark took the boat away?” the ship’s skipper told the Times. “But multiply it by 100. It was just a bigger event.”The trawler nearly capsized as the boat was dragged backwards and began to pitch. The crew was forced to release the wires that held the net in place in order to prevent the submarine from dragging the boat underwater. There is no definitive proof that the object that the trawler encountered was a submarine, let alone a Russian one. But NATO told the Times that none of its submarines were in the area at that time and the presence of a Russian sub off the coast of a Western state would also fit a larger pattern of provocative Russian military maneuvers.In late April, the Finnish navy dropped six small depth charges on a suspected Russian submarine inside of Finnish waters. The goal of the operation was to force the submarine to surface without damaging the vessel. But the sub never resurfaced and presumably left Finnish territory.(Marko Saavala/TT News Agency/Reuters) The event in Finland mirrored the highly publicized hunt for a suspected Russian submarine in Swedish territorial waters in late October 2014. The search, which was the largest Swedish military operation since the end of the Cold War, was ultimately called off and no submarine was ever conclusively discovered.This may be the second time in 2015 that a submarine thought to belong to Russia has been discovered off of the British coast. In January, the British Ministry of Defense requested US aid in searching for a Russian submarine off the coast of Scotland after a Scottish trawler reported seeing a submarine periscope. (Google) These Russian submarine operations could show that the Kremlin is using military incursions to test the capabilities and responses of Western states when faced with Russian operations in their strategic backyard. “One of the purposes of Russian training activities will be to assess the response of potential opponents and their own capability for gaming potential opponents,” Malcolm Chalmers, a research director at Royal United Services Institute, told the Times.“The Russians will send aircraft and ships into our area and see what we do. That cat-and-mouse game is something potential adversaries do all the time.”Since March 2014, there have been at least 40 incidents, ranging from air incursions to the kidnapping of an Estonian intelligence agent, in which Russian and NATO or European militaries have in some way escalated their stance towards one another. These incidents run the risk of spinning out of control or triggering a more intense conflict between Russia and of its geopolitical opponents.Interestingly, the incident in the Irish Sea took coincided with NATO’s Joint Warrior exercise. The NATO operation was held in the North Sea and was intended to provide advanced training for antisubmarine warfare. NOW WATCH: We went inside a secret basement under Grand Central that was one of the biggest World War II targets More From Business Insider NATO is sending Putin a clear message;This chart shows every model of military submarine in service around the world;Russia and the US are racing to modernize their nuclear forces
Budapest (AFP) – The leader of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, Massud Barzani, said on Monday his forces had „broken the spine” of the Islamic State (IS) group with the help of international allies.”Thanks to (the Kurds’) opposition and the help of their friends in the coalition, the spine of the Islamic State is broken,” Barzani said after talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest.Hungary recently joined the fight against IS by committing to send some 150 soldiers to Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital, Arbil.Barzani said that although „the danger is not over”, he was hopeful the days of the brutal militant organisation were numbered.The Kurdish president is in Budapest on an official state visit after wrapping up a trip to Washington where he met US President Barack Obama to discuss the situation in Iraq.Barzani appealed for more humanitarian aid and asked the US to arm his Peshmerga forces directly instead of passing though the federal government in Baghdad.The Peshmerga, backed by US air strikes, have prevented IS from advancing far from the mainly Arab cities they have seized in Iraq and into the area controlled by the Kurds.But Barzani warned that his region was now dealing with more than one-and-a-half million refugees and internally displaced people” who have fled IS.
Senator Warren hits back at Obama in Pacific Rim trade fight By Emily Stephenson5 hours ago Yahoo News Video President Obama on Sen.Warren: “Elizabeth is… a politician like everybody else.”Yahoo Studios President Obama on Sen.Warren: “Elizabeth is… a politician like everybody else.”WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren hit back at President Barack Obama in their tussle over „fast-track” authorization to negotiate a Pacific Rim trade treaty, a power she says could be used in the future to weaken Wall Street reforms.The president, who wants expedited negotiating power to streamline the passage of trade deals through Congress, said last week that Warren’s claims were „absolutely wrong.”FILE – In this March 25, 2015 file photo, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, left, speaks at a new conference on Capitol …Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat and prominent liberal voice, stuck to her argument in an interview published on Monday with a Washington Post blog, saying Obama should release details of the Pacific trade talks so legal experts can determine if a pact could be used to weaken U.S. bank rules.”If the president is so confident it’s a good deal, he should declassify the text and let people see it before asking Congress to tie its hands on fixing it,” Warren said in the interview with the Plum Line blog.Also on Monday, the second-ranking Senate Democrat raised doubt there were enough votes among Democrats to propel the fast-track bill over a procedural hurdle on Tuesday.RELATED: Why Obama is happy to fight Warren on trade „At this point it’s very questionable” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, can get the 60 votes needed to limit debate on whether to formally bring fast track onto the Senate floor, Dick Durbin said.McConnell has until mid-afternoon on Tuesday to find those votes in the 100-member Senate.Senate Democrats want the bill to be coupled with three other trade measures, including legislation providing training to U.S. workers who lose their jobs as a result of trade deals. They also want to link it to a measure stopping China from manipulating its currency to get a leg up on trade.Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said late on Monday: „There is no compromise that can be reached” rolling all four trade bills into one. But he and Durbin indicated there could be ways to craft a different compromise.DEMOCRATS SPLIT ON TRADE The dispute between Obama and Warren, both Democrats, reflects a split within the party over the White House’s trade agenda, which includes the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, stretching from Japan to Chile.On Monday, the White House stood firm in what it called a „substantive disagreement.””The president was blunt about the fact that some of her facts were wrong,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.Warren has said fast-track authority, which would mean Congress could approve or reject deals like the TPP but not change specific provisions, could be used by a future president to weaken Wall Street reforms that she championed.Obama, in an unusual alliance with congressional Republicans, says the pact would open new markets around the Pacific Ocean for U.S. goods. Many Democrats fear the deal will hurt American workers.Warren joined with 13 other Democratic senators in writing to the U.S. Trade Representative to say countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Mexico should have to change their labor laws before getting any trade benefits.”American workers cannot compete against workers in these countries where fundamental worker rights are not protected,” said the May 8 letter, released on Monday.Among the signatories was Maryland’s Ben Cardin, one of seven Democrats who backed fast-track legislation during debate in the Senate Finance Committee.(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Additional reporting by Krista Hughes and Richard Cowan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Jeffrey Benkoe, Dan Grebler and Peter Cooney)
Merkel urges Russia cooperation after paying respects to WWII dead By Anna SmolchenkoMay 10, 2015 7:15 AM Moscow (AFP) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday paid tribute to Soviet soldiers killed in WWII as she called for cooperation with Russia amid tensions over Ukraine.Merkel flew to Moscow to lay a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin walls, in an apparent compromise gesture after she skipped Russia’s main festivities on Saturday.Meeting her host Vladimir Putin for talks at the Kremlin, she stressed the importance of cooperation.”It’s necessary for us to work, to cooperate including over complicated situations — the way the situation is now — and try to find diplomatic solutions,” Merkel said at the start of the talks after the wreath-laying ceremony.The two leaders were set to discuss the Ukraine crisis over and address reporters afterwards.Russia on Saturday staged a huge parade to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany but most Western countries boycotted the festivities over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.In February, Putin hosted Merkel and French leader Francois Hollande for crunch talks over Ukraine, in what was the German leader’s first Russian visit since the start of the crisis.Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) take part in a wreath-l …In recent months Merkel has played a key negotiation role over Ukraine, acting as a go-between for an isolated Kremlin and the West.Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of masterminding the brutal separatist conflict in east Ukraine that has killed more than 6,100 people in just over a year.Political analyst Lilia Shevtsova said Sunday’s meeting between Putin and Merkel was highly symbolic.”They are hardly happy to see each other,” the prominent pro-Western analyst wrote on Facebook.”He is trying to retain his seat at the table by turning to the shadows of the past and other people’s glory.””But she has not accepted his rules of the game having arrived to pay tribute to the people who won.”Russian President Vladimir Putin (2ndL) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) attend a wreath-layi …-‘Everyone is here’-Many are concerned that Putin is using WWII festivities to justify Russia’s meddling in Ukraine and promote his nationalism-tinged agenda.Putin shrugged off the Western snub and instead played up ties with Asia, Latin America and Africa.”Everyone we wanted to see was here,” he said in televised remarks Saturday evening.Just before meeting Merkel Putin hosted 91-year-old Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who praised him for standing up to Washington and noted that their two countries had been slapped with sanctions.”That is the reason why we should remain together,” Mugabe said.But Putin also signalled his willingness to mend ties with Europe when he hosted Czech President Milos Zeman, one of the few European leaders to fly to Moscow for the festivities.”It was not us who initiated the chill in relations with Europe but I hope that thanks to politicians like you we will manage not only to revive them completely but to also move forward,” Putin said on Saturday.The Czech leftwinger leader for his part said he was confident that „normal ties will replace the chill.”Like Putin, many Russians shrugged off the Western no-show as they celebrated Victory Day well into the night, singing war-era songs and feting veterans.A whopping 500,000 people marched through central Moscow with portraits of their relatives who fought in the war, in the biggest march of Putin’s 15-year rule.The 62-year-old strongman wowed Russians by unexpectedly joining the mammoth procession on Red Square, a portrait of his veteran father Vladimir in his hand.