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  • US expands sanctions against Russian companies
    UAWIRE ORG September 8, 2016 12:14:24 PM

    The United States government has expanded the list of Russian companies that are subject to economic sanctions in connection with Moscow’s aggressive policy towards Ukraine. The new list of companies was published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, which posted it on the website of the government's Federal Register bulletin.

    This list featured 81 enterprises that were connected with the energy sector in one way or another or were involved in various projects in the annexed Crimea. The document also includes two companies registered in India and Hong Kong. The sanctions will affect 51 companies controlled by Gazprom, as well as organizations associated with the construction of the Kerch Strait Bridge.

    The new bridge across the Kerch Strait is intended to connect the territory of the Crimea to Russia and to allow the transportation of goods, bypassing the territory of Ukraine, who has demanded the return of the annexed territory.

    Among these companies are the St. Petersburg Institute Giprostroymost who designed the bridge project, the general contractor SGM-bridge and another contractor named Mostotrest.

    The list also includes companies such as Angstrem M, Angstrem, Angstrem-T, Foreign Trade Association Radioexport, Perm Scientific-Industrial Instrument Making Company, Micron, JSC R&D Micran, R&D Association Granat, Technopole and Zvezdochka shipyard.

    Gazprom-associated companies were introduced to the compulsory licensing of all shipments related to the exploration and production of oil and gas in deep waters of the Arctic shelf. As indicated in the document, "presumption of denial" will be in effect during consideration of such license applications in the US. UAWire - US expands sanctions against Russian companies

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    • Russia will not fulfill Minsk obligations until forced Ukrainian diplomat
      EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2016/09/08

      On September 5, 2014, the sides of the Donbas conflict signed the Minsk-1 ceasefire agreement, which included a twelve-point peace plan.

      In an interview with UNN, Volodymyr Ohryzko, the former Foreign Minister of Ukraine, explained why the Minsk talks are ineffective and described how to force Russia to comply with its obligations. The diplomat argues that Russia is not living up to its obligations in the Minsk agreements because it's not in its interest. He also believes international efforts to force Russia to implement the Minsk agreements are insufficient. Ohryzko is convinced that Russia will not fulfill any of its obligations unless forced.

      "While discussing the situation in Syria at the G20 summit in China, a high-ranking official said that Russia was refusing to take responsibility. All western politicians should take this key message into account. If it is not to its advantage, Russia will refuse to meet its obligations in any shape or form. Therefore, new Minsk-3, Minsk-5, or Minsk-25 agreements will not change anything," Ohryzko said.

      Ohryzko said that Russia was incapable of implementing what it promised; it's only willing to implement what it's forced to.

      "Therefore, until our western partners accept this simple reality, we will be discussing yet another meeting and yet another plan. By the way, some of our western partners have actively started drafting a new plan of action, failing to understand that it will not be implemented. We'll be talking about another demarcation line, debating withdrawal of weapons by five centimeters in different directions, none of which will be implemented. So, we could either continue blowing smoke or act assertively," Ohryzko noted.

      According to the expert, there is no point in signing the Minsk-3. Instead, there should be a plan on how to force Russia to implement its obligations in accordance with international law. Russia should be punished for its aggression and annexation of Crimea but not with sanctions alone. Either it should play by the international rules or remain isolated.

      The current sanctions are like mosquito bites. As long as the West plays a role of a biting mosquito, Russia will only feel a slight discomfort. But when Russia sees that it's being bitten by a fierce bulldog, it will feel much pain, then changes will occur. For now, the bulldog is sleeping. There are in fact plenty of options that the West is well familiar with. Such as blocking Russia from SWIFT or the global banking system, or imposing real sanctions on Russia's most sensitive areas like oil and gas. All we need is political will, but the West is still approaching this topic too delicately.
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Volodymyr Ohryzko is a Ukrainian diplomat. From 2007 to 2009, he served as a Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

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      • Crimean Tatar Leader Calls for Boycott of Russia’s Illegitimate Elections in Occupied Crimea
        09.09.16 | Halya Coynash HUMAN RIGHTS IN UKRAINE

        Crimean Tatar Mejlis leader Refat Chubarov has addressed all Crimeans calling on them to boycott the Russian parliamentary elections which Russia is insisting on holding in annexed Crimea. His appeal coincides with a Ukrainian parliamentary resolution asking the international community to join Ukraine in not recognizing the elections in Crimea.

        Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, has claimed that any refusal to recognize the elections will be of no consequence. This, however, is clearly not the message on the ground. Lists are being drawn up by the occupation administrations in Crimea of all public sector workers and even the staff of private firms, with them being threatened with dismissal or other penalties if they don’t turn up at the polling booths on September 18. There is also at least one example circulating of a similar order to attend campaigning events in support of the ruling United Russia party.

        It is clear that Russia is eager to create the semblance of legitimacy around elections that can have none since they are taking place in a part of Ukraine which Russia is illegally occupying.

        In his address Chubarov called on Crimeans to boycott all stages of the election process. He stressed that Russia is well-aware of the legal meaninglessness of these elections. It is hoping, however, by running them as though normal, to somehow validate the pseudo-referendum held at gunpoint soon after Russian soldiers invaded Crimea in Feb-March 2014.

        Chubarov stresses that the methods now being applied to coerce people into attending are illegal even according to Russian legislation.

        Boycotting the September 18 elections is a legal and non-violent method of opposing the Russian occupiers. Chubarov calls it an act worthy of all honest people, and a way showing support for political prisoners and their families.

        Chubarov is one of the Ukrainian MPs who endorsed an appeal adopted on September 8 to the parliaments of other countries, parliamentary assemblies and international organizations.

        They are asked to refrain from taking part in observing the illegal parliamentary elections in Crimea, and to not under any circumstances recognize the results. They are requested to issue official statements regarding the illegitimacy of any recognition of the elections on occupied territory.

        The Verkhovna Rada warns any foreign nationals who visit Crimea to take part in observing the event that criminal proceedings will be brought against them for illegally crossing into occupied territory.

        Russia has long used ‘observers’ whose unqualified and normally effusive praise can be relied upon for all pseudo-referendums, etc. Russia has for the last two and a half years pushed the narrative that Crimeans themselves decided to hold a referendum at which they decided ‘to join’ Russia. Those in the West who repeat this line choose to ignore the heavy presence of Russian soldiers without insignia and armed and extremely aggressive paramilitaries, the lack of any real choice on the ballot paper as well as the fact that any such referendum needed to be held in accordance with Ukraine’s Constitution and was not.

        The event was boycotted by most Crimean Tatars and many other Ukrainians opposed to Russia’s occupation as it was clear that this was no real referendum. The Crimean Tatar Mejlis or representative assembly has since then faced serious repression and is now banned. Even Russia’s own Human Rights Council later issued a report which clearly indicated that the alleged turnout and overwhelming support for annexation were largely fabricated. The results they found suggested much less than 50% throughout Crimea.

        None of this was, of course, noticed by the ‘observers’. Some of these were financed by the Russian-based Eurasian Observatory for Democracy and Elections headed by Luc Michel and Jean-Pierre Vandersmissen, both supporters of the neo-Nazi Jean-François Thiriart and members of the extreme right Parti Communautaire National-Européen (PCN-NCP). The list of supposedly 135 observers included representatives of the far-right parties Jobbik (Hungary); Ataka (Bulgaria); Vlaams Belang (Belgium); Freedom Party (Austria) and others. There were also members of neo-Stalinist or extreme left-wing parties, including Germany’s Die Linke. Two Bundestag deputies from this German party have since twice visited militant-controlled Donbas, providing propaganda stunts for the so-called ‘Donetsk people’s republic’. Many of the same ‘observers’ have since taken part in rubberstamping even more grotesque imitations of elections in Kremlin-backed militant-controlled Donbas.

        There have been constant attempts to present that event as a valid expression of Crimean voters’ wishes. There were lies from the outset, and attempts to pretend that the OSCE was present. The far-right Luc Michel was, for example, presented by pro-Kremlin TV Rossiya 24 as from the OSCE.

        There are no grounds for expecting anything seriously resembling fair elections anywhere in the Russian Federation, and in Russian-occupied Crimea they are, by definition, impossible and to be given a very wide berth. Crimean Tatar Leader Calls for Boycott of Russias Illegitimate Elections in Occupied Crimea :: khpg.org

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        • Stoltenberg: Despite Russia's criticism, NATO will continue to support Ukraine
          UAWIRE ORG September 8, 2016 6:44:06 PM

          Russia’s criticism against NATO for supporting Ukraine is groundless because each independent country has a right to ask the Alliance for help, stated Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg at a press conference in Tbilisi.

          “Russia criticizes our support of Ukraine. But Ukraine is an independent state and it asked for support. This is absolutely the legitimate right of every country, to ask for support and receive it. So there is no reason for criticism of the fact that we support a democratic government,” said Stoltenberg.

          He recalled that NATO is providing support to Ukraine through a number of trust funds in the fields of logistics, management and reform of the military sector.

          “We established a Commission Ukraine-NATO, which is a platform for our political and practical cooperation. But, of course, you can always do more. We work with the Ukrainians [to determine] what kind of support we can provide, policy and practice,” he added.

          Stoltenberg noted that one of the biggest achievements of the summit in Warsaw was the fact that NATO formulated its policy towards Russia: a military fortification but also political dialogue.

          “In my opinion, there is no contradiction between the strengthening of defense and dialogue. On the contrary, when we are sure of our deterrence forces in defense, then we can engage in political dialogue with Russia. We must engage in dialogue with Russia because it remains our largest neighbor and in order to avoid incidents similar to what happened in Turkey,” said the NATO secretary general. UAWire - Stoltenberg: Despite Russia's criticism, NATO will continue to support Ukraine

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          • Media: Russia is developing an aircraft armed with laser weapons
            UAWIRE ORG September 8, 2016 7:57:27 PM

            http://uawire.org/Media/Default/_Pro...89714153071381

            Russia is working on an airplane with a new generation laser weapon, according to TASS, citing a source in the Russian defense-industrial complex. “We are working on a new generation of air-based lasers,” the source added, stating that they will be installed on the aircraft. The project is listed in public sources and can be found in the index under A-60.

            Previously, the newspaper Izvestia (a long-running high-circulation daily newspaper in Russia) wrote that A-60 planned to convert the transport aircraft Il-76, which was based at the airfield factory at Taganrog city.

            The project has been on-going since the 1970’s. In 2015, the Taganrog aviation scientific-technical complex published the order on the public procurement website and indicated the implementation of the development of the constituent parts for the ergonomic equipment for the A-60 aircraft.

            On the 2nd of August, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation stated that the Russian Army has adopted the individual samples of the laser weapons.

            In 2014 the U.S. Army showed its laser gun in action, by hitting a target ship.
            UAWire - Media: Russia is developing an aircraft armed with laser weapons

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            • US expands sanctions against Russian companies
              UAWIRE ORG September 8, 2016 12:14:24 PM


              The United States government has expanded the list of Russian companies that are subject to economic sanctions in connection with Moscow’s aggressive policy towards Ukraine. The new list of companies was published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, which posted it on the website of the government's Federal Register bulletin.

              This list featured 81 enterprises that were connected with the energy sector in one way or another or were involved in various projects in the annexed Crimea. The document also includes two companies registered in India and Hong Kong. The sanctions will affect 51 companies controlled by Gazprom, as well as organizations associated with the construction of the Kerch Strait Bridge.

              The new bridge across the Kerch Strait is intended to connect the territory of the Crimea to Russia and to allow the transportation of goods, bypassing the territory of Ukraine, who has demanded the return of the annexed territory.

              Among these companies are the St. Petersburg Institute Giprostroymost who designed the bridge project, the general contractor SGM-bridge and another contractor named Mostotrest.

              The list also includes companies such as Angstrem M, Angstrem, Angstrem-T, Foreign Trade Association Radioexport, Perm Scientific-Industrial Instrument Making Company, Micron, JSC R&D Micran, R&D Association Granat, Technopole and Zvezdochka shipyard.

              Gazprom-associated companies were introduced to the compulsory licensing of all shipments related to the exploration and production of oil and gas in deep waters of the Arctic shelf. As indicated in the document, "presumption of denial" will be in effect during consideration of such license applications in the US. UAWire - US expands sanctions against Russian companies

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              • US Agrees to Help Enhance Ukrainian Forces, Dispatches Adviser
                Source: Reuters VOICE OF AMERICA Sept 08, 2016

                LONDON —

                The United States and Ukraine agreed Thursday to cooperate on defense technology and improve Ukraine's forces in a move aimed at boosting Ukrainian defense and enhancing U.S. assistance, the Pentagon said.

                U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter also named a senior U.S. adviser to oversee the effort.

                Carter and Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak signed the partnership agreement at a meeting in London in which they also discussed the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian government forces confront Russian-backed separatists.

                The partnership aims "to enhance the defense capacity of Ukraine's forces, advance critical Ukrainian defense reforms, improve resource management processes and boost defense technology cooperation," the Pentagon said in a statement following the meeting.

                Carter, speaking to reporters, called it a "very, very important agreement" to help further Ukraine's capabilities for defending its territory. He did not suggest it would change the nature of U.S. assistance, which has been focused on defensive support.

                Carter also named retired U.S. Army General John Abizaid, former head of U.S. Central Command, as a senior defense adviser to Ukraine to help Poltorak and other Ukrainian officials implement the reforms.

                Russia-backed fighters took up arms against Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine in April 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea in response to the downfall of a Moscow-backed president.

                Also on Thursday, Germany's foreign minister called for more urgent work to fully implement a cease-fire and voiced dissatisfaction at the slow pace of efforts to resolve the conflict in which more than 9,500 people have been killed.

                Efforts also are underway to arrange four-way talks between Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia on the conflict. US Agrees to Help Enhance Ukrainian Forces, Dispatches Adviser

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                • Isolated Russian Outpost Withers Under Confrontation With West
                  VOICE OF AMERICA Source: Reuters Sept 08, 2016

                  KALININGRAD, RUSSIA —

                  The Baltic Sea outpost of Kaliningrad was once touted as Russia's future Hong Kong: separated from the mainland, with a special status that would allow it to thrive through trade.

                  But for Igor Pleshkov, who employs 300 workers in a cement factory in this region of 1 million people wedged between EU members Lithuania and Poland, the future now looks dark.

                  He has watched his business wither in recent months, brought low by protectionist measures imposed by Moscow in retaliation for Western sanctions.

                  "The Russian economy has hit bottom, but who would have thought the Russians would start digging?" Pleshkov, 46, says, quoting a line he says he first heard from a German engineer who had come to work in Kaliningrad.

                  The medieval port of Koenigsberg, once a center of Protestant learning and trade on the Baltic coast, was in fact part of Germany until World War II, when it was bombed to rubble by the allies, besieged by the advancing Red Army and captured in the final months of the war.

                  Its entire German population fled, died or was expelled, and the region known as North Prussia was annexed by the Soviet Union, renamed Kaliningrad, rebuilt with stark housing blocks and repopulated by Russians.

                  The breakup of the Soviet Union left it separated from the rest of Russia, its crumbling roads now clogged with second-hand Volkswagens and Skodas bought cheaply in Europe, rather than Russian Ladas and Volgas.

                  While the region was heavily militarized and largely closed to outsiders during the Soviet period, it grew the shoots of prosperity in recent years. Kaliningrad now has some 80,000 small- and medium-sized firms, many involved in manufacturing, thanks in part to special trade status with its EU neighbors.

                  Companies like Pleshkov's Thomas-Beton were permitted to import raw materials duty free to make products that could be sold back in mainland Russia.

                  But that status was allowed to lapse on April 1 this year.

                  And that followed a series of other moves to restrict trade since 2014, when Russia seized Ukraine's Crimea, the United States and EU imposed punitive financial sanctions, and Moscow responded with counter-sanctions of its own.

                  Different situation
                  Kaliningrad is hardly the only part of Russia that is hurting. Throughout the past two years, a collapse in global prices for energy exports have created a grinding economic crisis. The ruble has fallen, raising the price of imports.

                  But while some parts of Russia have been partly shielded from the pain by the fall in imports, which has boosted consumption of home-made goods, Kaliningrad's close ties to its EU neighbors means it has suffered more than other areas.

                  Since 2014, Russia's overall trade volume has fallen by a third, but Kaliningrad's has plummeted by nearly half.

                  Industrial output, which had previously outpaced the rest of Russia, fell more than anywhere else.

                  Russia's counter-sanctions included a ban on most EU food imports, wrecking an industry of processing imported meat into canned lunch meat for sale across Russia, which had accounted for nearly a fifth of Kaliningrad's manufacturing.

                  In the case of Pleshkov's cement company, the situation became worse in recent months when the government squeezed his supply of inexpensive cement by demanding complicated certificates for imports.

                  The reform was intended to protect Russian companies but had the opposite effect in Kaliningrad, Pleshkov says.

                  "They are closing off markets, but they do not understand that the Kaliningrad region is in a little bit of a different geographical situation," said Pleshkov.

                  Not special anymore
                  The Moscow government speaks of refocusing eastwards on trade with countries like China. But that is small comfort here on Europe's doorstep.

                  "Cooperation with Australia looks as likely to yield success as the current model at this point in time," gloomily quipped Ilya Shumanov, a former director of Kaliningrad's Transparency International office.

                  Many locals blame the region's government for not having a plan to support business after the end of the special status regime, beyond relying on government subsidies, set at 66 billion rubles ($1.02 billion) for this year.

                  Anton Likhanov, the region's newly appointed prime minister, an energetic young politician from Moscow, said there were some "rough edges" that needed smoothing out.

                  "We need to change the structure because we have depended too much on import components," Likhanov told Reuters.

                  Kaliningrad should not aim to become a manufacturing hub assembling products from imported EU materials, which would only be sustainable if workers stay low paid, he said.

                  "I don't want Kaliningrad to become an appendage to the EU with cheap labor and low costs - that would be some kind of neo-colonialism," said Likhanov. Instead, it should focus on high-quality manufacturing using Russian raw materials.

                  Good times over?
                  For years, Kaliningrad residents enjoyed special permission to travel back and forth across the Polish border. But Poland suspended that pact in July, citing security concerns, and says it won't renew it anytime soon. That hurts shops in Kaliningrad, many of which have long passed off smuggled Polish meat as local meat.

                  Consumers are demoralized.
                  "I am certainly a patriot, but I would go from time to time to Poland," said Vladimir Kuzin, a former Kaliningrad city official. "Because what they call cheese in our stores is not cheese."

                  Vadim Khlebnikov, editor of local news portal rugrad.edu, said everything had become more expensive last year, apart from potatoes and cheap frozen fish.

                  Russian tourists still come in summer to enjoy Kaliningrad's sandy coast. But statistics show restaurants have been closing. Many are empty.

                  Meanwhile, Moscow has been busy turning the already highly militarized region into a fortress, beefing up its military presence amid heightened tensions with NATO.

                  Some locals say that will only isolate Russia further. Pleshkov, who calls himself an optimist, says he fears the region's best times are behind it.

                  "The government tried to cover up the problems with the help of quasi patriotism, suggesting it wasn't those fools who didn't know how to manage their own country, but those evil people abroad who drove us into this situation," he said.

                  ($1 = 64.8653 rubles)
                  Isolated Russian Outpost Withers Under Confrontation With West

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                  • Crimean savagely beaten for Ukrainian symbols faces ‘extremism’ charges
                    10.09.16 | Halya Coynash HUMAN RIGHTS IN UKRAINE

                    Ihor Movenko is in a Sevastopol hospital with severe injuries after being brutally beaten over the Ukrainian symbols and an ’Azov’ sticker on his bike. While criminal proceedings have, supposedly, been initiated against the assailant, it was Movenko who had his hands bound after the enforcement officers arrived. He is now facing administrative proceedings for so-called ‘extremism’.

                    The aftermath can be clearly seen in the video which his wife posted on the Internet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yR5--ZnWtDc

                    Movenko obviously needed medical attention, but was kept lying on the ground, his hands bound. His wife, Valentina, had sped over after being called by a witness to the events, and used her telephone to video the scene. On it she can be heard asking why a particular woman is standing there, provoking people. The woman calls herself a ‘patriot’ of her city, to which Valentina Movenko asks if the woman’s ‘patriotism’ allows her to approve of such violence.

                    The attack took place at around midday on September 7. 39-year-old Movenko had just stopped outside a shopping centre to make money out of a bankomat. He was attacked after he returned to the bike, and has a broken nose and other serious injuries to the face.

                    Valentina Movenko has since told the Crimean Human Rights Group, that from what she has been able to understand, a man came up to her husband, complaining about the Ukrainian symbols. Her husband is quite clear that he was attacked, and since he sustained serious injuries, and nobody else was hurt, it would be difficult to believe anything else to be the case. Yet the shopping centre security people have refused to give the CCTV footage to Valentina Movenko and claim that it has been passed to the police. Since they also assert that it was her husband who ‘provoked’ the attack and that it is he who is facing charges, any secrecy over the video footage is disturbing.

                    According to Valentina Movenko, the man who attacked her husband, claimed to be from the police, but did not show any ID. If he is indeed the man standing over Movenko, and near the police officers, then he appears to be on good terms with them.

                    According to his wife, Ihor Movenko has been told by officers from the so-called department for fighting extremism, that they will be bringing administrative charges against him for alleged ‘extremism’.

                    This is presumably in connection with the ‘Azov’ sticker. ‘Azov’, like ‘Right Sector’, has been banned as extremist by Russia. While both the original battalion, and the Azov Civic Corps, have far-right views which many of us do not share, the ban is in itself unwarranted. In Movenko’s case, it was a sticker which he has on his bike, together with Ukrainian symbols. His wife stresses that they reflect the couple’s position, but that her husband had made any calls to action, ‘extremist’ or otherwise.

                    Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly pushed the narrative that Russia’s invasion of Crimea was to ‘prevent bloodshed’ and ‘protect’ Russians. There had been no violence against Russians, nor were there any grounds for expecting the situation to change.

                    Following Russia’s invasion, it became dangerous to even appear on the streets with Ukrainian symbols. A number of Crimeans were seized and tortured for no more. The list of people who have disappeared without trace, some after being openly abducted, since Russia’s invasion, including pro-Ukrainian activists.

                    There have since also been prosecutions for holding the Ukrainian and / or Crimean Tatar flags, and all Ukrainian activists regularly get warnings on the eve of Ukrainian special days of the ‘inadmissibility of extremism’. Crimean savagely beaten for Ukrainian symbols faces extremism charges :: khpg.org

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                    • Steinmeier: Progress on Minsk II is urgently needed
                      UAWIRE ORG September 9, 2016 4:26:00 PM

                      The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said that there is still a lot of work to be done to reach a full implementation of the ceasefire agreement in the Donbas region. However, progress on it is "urgently necessary," the German Foreign Minister said during a joint press conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Pavel Klimkin, on Thursday, September 8, 2016 in Berlin.

                      "With regard to the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, we must also talk about the laws regarding special status, local elections, and amnesty. For this reason, our legal experts met many times during the summer. However, we both know that we will need to do a lot of work to eventually come to an agreement on these issues," Reuters quoted Steinmeier as saying.

                      With regard to the status of the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, Steinmeier once again expressed his dissatisfaction with it. "We are not satisfied and cannot be satisfied with the state of the implementation of the Minsk Agreements," the AFP News Agency quoted Steinmeier as saying. The Minister added that no part of the Normandy Format resulted in "our making no headway with the implementation of the agreements."

                      As was previously reported, on Thursday, September 8, 2016, Pavlo Klimkin has visited Berlin to meet with German politicians in order to "deepen the Ukrainian-German dialogue and develop bilateral cooperation with the aim of carrying out structural reforms in Ukraine," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said. UAWire - Steinmeier: Progress on Minsk II is urgently needed

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                      • US and Ukraine sign agreement on military cooperation
                        UAWIRE ORG September 9, 2016 9:14:00 AM

                        The Pentagon and Ukrainian Ministry of Defense signed an agreement on military cooperation, aimed at increasing the defense capability of Ukraine and the expansion of assistance provided by the United States to Kiev, the US Department of Defense reported on Thursday, September 8.

                        US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and his Ukrainian counterpart, Stepan Poltorak, signed a partnership agreement at a meeting in London, during which they also discussed the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, the statement from the Pentagon press service says.

                        Among the objectives of the agreement are the increase of the defense capability of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the promotion of major reforms of Kiev in the defense sector, and the strengthening of military-technical cooperation.

                        Speaking before the reporters, the Pentagon chief called the agreement “very, very important,” stressing that it will help the further development of Ukraine’s ability to protect its territory.

                        According to Ashton Carter, retired General John Abizaid, former commander of the Central Command of the US Armed Forces, will take over as a senior military adviser, and will oversee the sphere of military cooperation with Ukraine. “General Abizaid will provide authoritative advice to Minister Poltorak and other senior Ukrainian officials on the issue of reforms, to bring the Armed Forces of Ukraine in accordance with Western principles and standards, such as the strengthening of democratic civilian control over the armed forces, the transition to personnel structure compatible with NATO and the fight against corruption,” the US Department of Defense reported. UAWire - US and Ukraine sign agreement on military cooperation

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                        • RADIO FREE EUROPE September 10, 2016
                          Ukraine Reports Combat Death Despite Truce

                          Ukraine has reported its first combat death since a new cease-fire with Russia-backed separatists went into effect on September 1.

                          "In the past day, as a result of military activities, one of our soldiers died and two were wounded," Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said on September 9.

                          Lysenko said the casualties were suffered during an attack by separatists around the eastern town of Mariinka near Donetsk.

                          He added that the separatists also violated the truce by shelling the vicinity of the port city of Mariupol.

                          Earlier this week, the separatists claimed the death of one its fighters.

                          Fighting between government forces and separatists has killed more than 9,500 people in Ukraine's east since April 2014.

                          In late August, the warring sides agreed their latest truce to coincide with the new school year. Ukraine Reports Combat Death Despite Truce

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                          • The Power Vertical Brian Whitmore Sept. 10, 2016
                            What Putin Didn't Get In Hangzhou

                            One of the most significant things about the G20 summit was something that didn't happen.

                            Hangzhou didn't become Yalta. China didn't become Munich.

                            But Vladimir Putin sure wanted it to.

                            In fact, Russia's actions in and around Ukraine over the past month appear to have been, at least in part, a big psy-op in the run-up to the summit.

                            Moscow ginned up a fake crisis in Crimea in August, accusing Ukraine of sending a team of agent saboteurs to the annexed peninsula to carry out terrorist acts.

                            Feigning outrage, the Kremlin then abruptly pulled out of planned four-party talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Francois Hollande.

                            And all the while, Russia moved tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine's borders and conducted menacing military exercises, sparking fears that an all-out invasion was in the cards.

                            It was in this context that Putin pushed for a joint meeting on the sidelines of the G20 with Merkel and Hollande -- but without Poroshenko -- aimed at resolving the Ukraine conflict behind Kyiv's back.

                            "Putin appeared to be willing to offer certain compromises on Syria, expecting the West to reciprocate on Ukraine, decreasing their support to the Kyiv government," Aleksandr Kokcharov, Russia defense analyst at IHS Jane's 360, told Newsweek recently.

                            It's a classic Kremlin tactic. Create a fake crisis and then offer to help resolve it on Moscow's terms.

                            But it didn't work.

                            Merkel and Hollande agreed only to meet Putin separately, where each pushed him to fulfill Moscow's obligations under the Minsk cease-fire.

                            Both refused to cut any deals about Ukraine without Poroshenko's involvement.

                            And to stress that point, the French and German leaders then met with U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss Ukraine -- without Putin.

                            Moreover, Hollande called for a resumption of four-party talks on Ukraine -- the so-called Normandy format -- and Putin acquiesced.

                            "Putin is still where he was two months ago, before the recent reescalation in east Ukraine and military buildup in Crimea," Kokcharov said.

                            So the elaborate psy-op the Kremlin launched last month, when it accused Ukraine of plotting terrorist attacks in Crimea, fell flat on its face.

                            But while Putin may have suffered a tactical diplomatic defeat in Hangzhou, he clearly hasn't given up on his strategic goal of dominating Ukraine, even as Kyiv makes impressive strides in reforming and modernizing its once-ramshackle armed forces.

                            "Ukraine's military is now larger, tougher, and more ready than ever. If Putin did decide on some major military adventure now, he would get much more than he bargained for," Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague and a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, wrote recently in Vox.

                            "The Russians know this, and their military moves are instead meant to ratchet up the political pressure on Kyiv -- and to prepare just in case some day Ukraine feels strong enough to try to take back the Donbas by force."

                            And with its military buildup, Moscow also appears to be gearing up for the long game -- a protracted, tense, and sometimes bloody standoff with Kyiv that Putin thinks he can win.

                            As military analyst Michael Kofman, a fellow at the Kennan Institute, wrote recently in Foreign Policy, the bases Russia is constructing along Ukraine's borders look like permanent garrisons, complete with soccer fields and long-term housing.

                            The militarization of Crimea, meanwhile, continues apace.

                            "Russia isn't about to escalate the war in Ukraine's east, but it is reorienting its forces to surround and contain Ukraine for years to come in a process that has been largely overlooked," Kofman wrote.

                            "Russia will retain escalation dominance over Ukraine for the foreseeable future. By the end of 2017, its forces will be better positioned to conduct an incursion or threaten regime change in Kyiv than they ever were in 2014." What Putin Didn't Get In Hangzhou

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                            • Kyiv wins right to host Eurovision
                              KYIV POST Anna Yakutenko Sept 09, 2016

                              It's official: Kyiv will host the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest.
                              -------------------------------------
                              The Ukrainian Organization Committee picked Kyiv over Odesa and Dnipro (formerly Dnipropetrovsk) to host the contest.

                              The decision came on Sept. 9, after a delay of more than a month. The three cities were pre-selected from a total of six Ukrainian cities that bid for hosting rights, with Lviv, Kherson and Kharkiv being eliminated in the first round of the selection process.

                              "One of the most important factors (for choosing Kyiv) was the financial guarantees the city can provide," Ukrainian Minister of Culture Evhen Nyshchuk said during a news conference on Sept. 9 to announce Kyiv's selection. '' It was important that the city budget could cover the expenses by the state."

                              He said that Kyiv's authorities were ready to allocate Hr 200 million ($8 million) to hold the show, and Hr 1 billion ($40 million) to upgrade the event's venue, the International Exhibition Center on the left bank of Kyiv. Nyshchuk said that the exhibition center, which has a capacity of 12,000-14,000 people, will be reconstructed to improve its acoustics, decorate the venue, and upgrade infrastructure nearby.

                              Nyshchuk said that the final decision had been between Kyiv and Odesa, and that the capital had won out because it offered a bigger budget and already had all of the required infrastructure, including international airports and hotels.

                              Dnipro was eliminated as its Meteor Stadium, the proposed Eurovision venue, couldn't be reconstructed in time for next year's contest.

                              Zurab Alasania, the head of the National Television Company of Ukraine, said the decision had been non-political, and was taken independently by the Ukrainian organization committee together with representatives of the European Broadcasting Union, the international organizer of the event.

                              Odesa had proposed to hold Eurovision at its Chernomorets Stadium, but the outdoor venue would have required significant spending on a roof. Nyshchuk also said that the organizers had also taken into account the proposed host cities, proximity to fighting in the east of the country, with Dnipro and Odesa being closer to the conflict zone than Kyiv.

                              Kyiv's biggest arena, the Olympysky Stadium, is unable to be used as the contest venue as the World Hockey Championship is being held there on the dates when the song contest is expected to take place.

                              The authorities plan to launch a ferry service across the Dnipro River to take people from the city center on the right bank to the concert hall.

                              Ukraine won the right to host Eurovosion after singer Jamala won the previous year’s contest in Stockholm, Sweden, with a song entitled "1944." The song was about the deportation of Crimean Tatars after the Second World War by the Soviet authorities, who had accused them of collaborating with the Nazis.

                              This will be the second time the Ukrainian capital hosts the Eurovision song contest. The first time was in 2005, after Ukrainian singer Ruslana Lyzhychko won the 2004 contest with her song "Wild Dances."

                              So far 28 countries have confirmed that they will take part in the 2017 Eurovision Song contest. Kyiv wins right to host Eurovision
                              Last edited by Hannia; 10th September 2016, 05:05.

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                              • UT UKRAINE TODAY Sep. 10, 2016
                                Russian elections declared "impossible" in Ukraine - even in Embassies

                                Poroshenko sends the message to Kremlin: No Russian parlamentary elections in Ukraine

                                President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko instructed the Foreign Ministry to inform the Russian Federation that no Russian elections will be held in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports.

                                Press secretary of Ukrainian leader Svyatoslav Tsegolko wrote on Twitter: "The President instructed the Foreign Ministry to inform Moscow about the impossibility of holding Russian elections on the territory of Ukraine".

                                As reported, Russian parliamentary elections will be held on September 18. The elections are also planned to be held on the territory of the annexed Crimea. Earlier, Russia called on Ukraine to ensure the safety of the four polling stations in Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa and Kharkiv in the territory of Russian diplomatic missions.

                                Later Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mariana Betsa in her comment for "Ukrainska pravda" clarified: "Russia's intention to hold elections in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine is a violation of international law and will not be possible even in the premises of diplomatic and consular services of the Russian Federation".

                                In this regard, the Foreign Ministry has asked Ukraine to the Russian side with the request not to hold elections in the territories and to avoid provocations in the territories of embassies and consulates, as it violates international law and laws of Ukraine, Betsa stressed.

                                Also Ukraine demanded that the international community not to recognize the results of voting on the territory of the Crimea, which is temporarily occupied by Russian Federation.

                                Earlier Ukraine Today published expert analysis, stating thatRussian elections in Crimea should strip Russian Duma of legitimacy. No Russian election in Ukraine: Russian elections declared "impossible" in Ukraine - even in Embassies

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