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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Abu Dhabi SWF says 'ready' to buy more hotel assets - Banking & Finance -

Abu Dhabi SWF says 'ready' to buy more hotel assets - Banking & Finance -

"The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is ready to purchase more real estate hotel assets as the right opportunities appear, according to its head of hospitality.

ADIA, one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, continues to see the United States as a viable investment option, but is also looking elsewhere around the globe, said Mike Goodson in comments published by

Speaking during the HotelsWorld Australia New Zealand conference, Goodson was quoted as saying: “We’re always very likely to be a net investor as long as our overall fund keeps growing. Given the world situation, that should happen."

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AP News : What happened? The day Flight #MH17 was downed

AP News : What happened? The day Flight 17 was downed:

FILE - In this Thursday, July 17, 2014
 mobile phone photo provided by Andrei
Kashtanov, smoke rises from the site
where a Malaysia Airlines commercial
plane went down in eastern Ukraine.
All 298 people aboard the Boeing 777
traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur
were killed. (AP Photo/Andrei Kashtanov)
SNIZHNE, Ukraine (AP) - It was lunchtime when a tracked launcher with four SA-11 surface-to-air missiles rolled into town and parked on Karapetyan Street. Fifteen hundred miles (2,400 kilometers) to the west, passengers were checking in for Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

It had been a noisy day in this eastern Ukrainian town, residents recounted. Plenty of military equipment was moving through. But still it was hard to miss the bulky missile system, also known as a Buk M-1. It left deep tread marks in the asphalt as it rumbled by in a small convoy.

The vehicles stopped in front of journalists from The Associated Press. A man wearing unfamiliar fatigues, speaking with a distinctive Russian accent, checked to make sure they weren't filming. The convoy then moved on, destination unknown in the heart of eastern Ukraine's pro-Russia rebellion.

Three hours later, people six miles (10 kilometers) west of Snizhne heard loud noises.

And then they saw pieces of twisted metal - and bodies- fall from the sky.

The rebel leadership in Donetsk has repeatedly and publicly denied any responsibility for the downing of Flight 17.

Sergei Kavtaradze, a spokesman for rebel leader Alexander Borodai, repeated to the AP on Friday that no rebel units had weapons capable of shooting that high, and said any suggestions to the contrary are part of an information war aimed at undermining the insurgents' cause.

Nevertheless, the denials are increasingly challenged by accounts of residents, the observations of journalists on the ground, and the statements of one rebel official. The Ukrainian government has also provided purported communications intercepts that it says show rebel involvement in the shoot-down.

A highly placed rebel, speaking to the AP this week, admitted that rebels were responsible. He said a unit based in the hometown of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, made up of both Russians and Ukrainians, was involved in the firing of an SA-11 from near Snizhne. The rebel, who has direct access to the inner circle of the insurgent leadership in Donetsk, said that he could not be named because he was contradicting the rebels' official line.

The rebels believed they were targeting a Ukrainian military plane, this person said. Instead, they hit the passenger jet flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people aboard were killed.

Intercepted phone conversations released by the Ukrainian government appear to back up the contention they were unaware the aircraft was a passenger jet.

In those tapes, the first rebels to reach the scene can be heard swearing when they see the number of bodies and the insignia of Malaysia Airlines.

Ukraine immediately blamed the rebels for the shooting. In an interview in Kiev this week, the Ukrainian counterterrorism chief, Vitaly Nayda, gave the AP the government's version of the events of July 17. He said the account was based on information from intercepts, spies and resident tips.

Nayda laid the blame fully on Russia: He said the missile launcher came from Russia and was operated by Russians. The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday declined to comment on either charge. Moscow has continually denied involvement in the downing of the plane.

The rebel official who spoke to AP did not address the question of any Russian government involvement in the attack. U.S. officials have blamed Russia for creating the "conditions" for the downing of the plane, but have offered no evidence that the missile came from Russia or that Russia directly was involved.

According to Nayda, at 1 a.m. on July 17 the launcher rolled into Ukraine across the Russian border aboard a flatbed truck. He cited communications intercepts that he would not share with the AP. By 9 a.m., he said, the launcher had reached Donetsk, the main rebel stronghold 125 miles (200 kilometers) from the border. In Donetsk it is presumed to have been off-loaded from the flatbed and started to move in a convoy on its own.

Nayda said the Buk turned back east toward Snizhne. Townspeople who spoke to the AP said it rolled into Snizhne around lunchtime.

"On that day there was a lot of military equipment moving about in town," recalled Tatyana Germash, a 55-year-old accountant, interviewed Monday, four days after the attack.

Valery Sakharov, a 64-year-old retired miner, pointed out the spot where he saw the missile launcher.

"The Buk was parked on Karapetyan Street at midday, but later it left; I don't know where," he said. "Look - it even left marks on the asphalt."

Even before the plane was downed, the AP had reported on the presence of the missile launcher in the town July 17.

Here is what that dispatch said: "An Associated Press reporter on Thursday saw seven rebel-owned tanks parked at a gas station outside the eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne. In the town, he also observed a Buk missile system, which can fire missiles up to an altitude of 22,000 meters (72,000 feet)."

AP journalists saw the Buk moving through town at 1:05 p.m. The vehicle, which carried four 18-foot (5.5-meter) missiles, was in a convoy with two civilian cars.

The convoy stopped. A man in sand-colored camouflage without identifying insignia - different from the green camouflage the rebels normally wear - approached the journalists. The man wanted to make sure they had not recorded any images of the missile launcher. Satisfied that they hadn't, the convoy moved on.

About three hours later, at 4:18 p.m., according to a recording from an intercepted phone call that has been released by Ukraine's government, the Buk's crew snapped to attention when a spotter called in a report of an incoming airplane.

"A bird is flying to you," the spotter tells the rebel, identified by the Ukrainians as Igor Bezler, an insurgent commander who the Ukrainian government asserts is also a Russian intelligence officer.

The man identified as Bezler responds: "Reconnaissance plane or a big one?"

"I can't see behind the clouds. Too high," the spotter replies.

The rebel official who spoke to the AP about the incident said that Bezler commanded another fighter, code-named Sapper, who was the ranking rebel officer with the missile launcher at the time.

According to the rebel official, Sapper led a rebel unit, about half of which was made up of men from far eastern Russia, many from the island of Sakhalin off Russia's Pacific coast.

Sapper is from the nearby town of Yenakiieve, he said. The town also happens to be the home of the former president, Yanukovych.

Sapper could not be reached for comment; his real identity is not known. Bezler, contacted on Friday by the AP, denied any connection to the attack on the plane. "I did not shoot down the Malaysia Airlines plane. I did not have the physical capabilities to do so," he declared.

According to the account of the rebel official, however, Sapper had been sent that day to inspect three checkpoints - in the towns of Debaltsevo, Chernukhino and Snizhne, all of which are within a 20-mile (30-kilometer) radius of where the plane went down. At some point in these travels, he joined up with the convoy accompanying the missile launch system.

At about 4:20 p.m., in the town of Torez, six miles (10 kilometers) west of Snizhne, residents heard loud noises. Some reported hearing two blasts, while others recall only one.

"I heard two powerful blasts in a row. First there was one, but then after a minute, a minute and a half, there was another discharge," said Rostislav Grishin, a 21-year-old prison guard. "I raised my head and within a minute I could see a plane falling through the clouds."

At 4:40 p.m., in another intercepted call released by Ukraine, the man identified as Bezler tells his own superior that the unit had shot down a plane.

"Just shot down a plane. It was Sapper's group. It went down beyond Yenakiieve," the man says.

While the authenticity of the intercept cannot be verified independently, the U.S. Embassy in Kiev said specialists in the intelligence community have deemed it authentic.

As for the Buk, Nayda said, intelligence suggests it went back on the move shortly after the attack.

That very night, he said, it crossed the border, back into Russia.


Leonard reported from Kiev. Other AP correspondents in eastern Ukraine assisted in this report.
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Friday, 25 July 2014

Van Rompuy’s letter on Russia: the complete text | Brussels blog

Van Rompuy’s letter on Russia: the complete text | Brussels blog:

Russian president Vladimir Putin, left, with Van Rompuy at a January summit in Brussels
After weeks of equivocation that made it appear the EU might never move to “phase three” sanctions against Russia – which would target entire sectors of the Russian economy rather than just individuals and “entities” – on Friday things began to move very quickly.
First, EU ambassadors (known as Coreperin euro-speak) tasked the European Commission with drawing up the legislation needed to approve the new sanctions, which would go after the Russian financial, energy and defence sectors. Details of what the sanctions are expected to look like are here.
Then, late on Friday, Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council president, sent a letter to all EU prime ministers urging them to quickly endorse the sanctions package, and to give their EU ambassadors the authority to sign off on them Tuesday. Some countries have been calling for an emergency summit of leaders to approve them, but Van Rompuy clearly wants to move faster. The text of the Van Rompuy letter, obtained by the Brussels Blog, is here:
Further to the European Council on 16 July and the Foreign Affairs Council on 22 July, I would like to inform you of the steps being taken to reinforce restrictive measures with regards to the situation in Ukraine and to the aftermath of the tragic downing of flight MH17.
On 24 July, the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) agreed to list 33 further entities and persons. It also expanded the legal basis of the restrictive measures so as to target individuals or entities actively providing material or financial support to or benefiting from the Russian decision makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Eastern-Ukraine.
A Trade and Investment ban for Crimea andSevastopolas well as an additional list of entities and individuals both under the current and the expanded criteria will be ready for adoption by COREPER on 28 July.
As requested by the Foreign Affairs Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) presented to COREPER a set of restrictive measures related to access to capital markets, defence, dual use goods, and sensitive technologies on 24 July. My assessment is that this package strikes the right balance when it comes to cost/benefit ratio and scalability/reversibility over time. It should have a strong impact on Russia’s economy while keeping a moderate effect on EU economies.
In particular, the discussion among Ambassadors allowed to identify an emerging consensus on some key principles:
  • The overall balance will be maintained across sectors and across Member States;
  • The principle of non-retroactivity will apply across all targeted sectors, notably in the field of arms trade and restrictions on access to capital markets;
  • The measures in the field of sensitive technologies will only affect the oil sector in view of the need to preserve EU energy security;
  • The prohibition of dual-use technology exports will be limited at this stage to military end-users.
As far as the other concerns expressed by Member States, notably on the impact on our economies, I have asked the Commission to keep these under constant review and to keep Member States closely involved.
The preparation of the legal acts will be finalized in the next few hours and will be presented to COREPER with a view to approving them by Tuesday 29 July. I would like to ask you that you instruct your Ambassador in order to complete an agreement by this date.
Although Van Rompuy’s endorsement does not in and of itself mean the measures will pass, the former Belgian prime minister is widely known as a wily operator who always has his fingers of the political pulse in Berlin, Paris and London. It is unlikely he would go out on such a limb without knowing he has the support of the EU’s most important foreign policy capitals.
Tough EU sanctions appear to have just become far more likely.
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Ukraine in Flux as Prime Minister Yatsenyuk Resigns: Video - Bloomberg

Ukraine in Flux as Prime Minister Yatsenyuk Resigns: Video - Bloomberg: ""

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Nobody panic: there is no alternative to disbanding parliament | EUROMAIDAN PRESS | News and Opinion from Across Ukraine

Nobody panic: there is no alternative to disbanding parliament | EUROMAIDAN PRESS | News and Opinion from Across Ukraine:

2014/07/25 • POLITICS
Valeriy Pekar, for UP
In detail and without panic on the internal political situation: the Parliament, the Government, the President and reforms.
Below all the words will be written in lowercase – this is incorrect, however it will make reading much easier.
1. Let’s start with the parliament. There is no alternative to disbanding the parliament.
This parliament does not reflect the post-Maidan social reality, in particular: the sharp turn made from dictatorship to republic, the emergence of a responsible and demanding civic society, war with a strong enemy, the objective necessity and the subjective desire for cardinal reforms, the desire of the people to tear away from their Soviet past, the acceleration of the formation of a political nation.
This parliament is full of titushky, political titushky, direct and overt enemies of Ukraine, traitors, oligarchs’ drivers and bodyguards, Kremlin agents etc.
Over half of the members of this parliament voted in support of the draconian laws on January 16th. This is sufficient to dismiss this parliament and elect a new one.
One of Maidan’s categorical demands was a full reboot of power: the government, the president, the parliament. The third stage of this process has come. There is no reason to step away from the demands that Maidan stood for and the Heaven’s Sotnya died.
The war will not interfere with the elections. What is more, now “the owners of Donbas” have to quickly get involved in kicking the mercenaries out so that the elections are held there as well and so that they obtain representation in the parliament. If we are to claim that “the elections will happen after the war is over,” the war will go on forever.
There will be money for the elections. Fair governance (I don’t want to use the yellowing word “democracy”) is more important than money, as if there is no fair governance, then there is no money either. If the members of the parliament had passed at least one of the essential anti-corruption acts, then much more money than the elections require would have been released.
2. Reforms. Reforms are necessary: confident, complex, deep. There is no alternative: if there are no reforms, the country will simply fall to pieces. Everyone is obviously weary of this word. But there have been no real reforms yet, only talk.
Without anti-corruption reforms all the suffering and deaths would be in vain, and everything will be stolen yet again.
Without tax reform, there will be no economic growth, welfare and employment.
Without the reform of the courts and the police, there will be new cases of Vradiyivka all around the country and a new social explosion, a horrible one.
Without educational reform we will become a third-world country, without any hopes. Without the reform of local governments nothing will change in towns and villages.
Usually, people are scared of change and regard future reforms with caution. But we, as a country and a people, are going through such challenges, that an understanding is being cultivated within us: we have to fill up our lungs with air and plunge into this cold water, as there is no other choice anymore.
Society is approaching a critical limit of readiness to radical change. This will not last long: the window of opportunity opens and closes after some time. We have to take advantage of the chance, and break with the Ukrainian tradition of wasting chances. We have taken advantage of many opportunities in the last 8 months, therefore we have learned.
3. The president. Don’t ask whether he wants reforms or not. This is unimportant. It is important that he understands: he has no other choice as a politician. He definitely does not want to leave preemptively as a result of a social explosion or be remembered as the last president, God forbid.
As opposed to the members of the parliament, who may be up to their dirty tricks and return at the next elections, the president has no such chances. Therefore, we have an ardent supporter of reform in the president’s person. It is not certain that he has enough necessary qualities, but he will definitely have enough will. He has the ambition to be remembered in history as a Ukrainian Lee Kuan Yew of sorts, the builder of a new country, and not Yushchenko 2.0 “whose descendants shame him in verse.”
4. The government. Here, everything is complicated.
Arseniy Petrovich [Yatseniuk] is, without doubt, the best Prime Minister in all of the history of independent Ukraine. As opposed to the Maidan booth, here he absolutely in his element. Multilaterally competent, exceptionally able, attentive to detail, strong in conversation.
But this is not enough.
This government has an unconditional merit: having kept the country afloat after Yanukovich during war, civil unrest, bandits, lack of government and the ghost of chaos, the constant threat of financial collapse – this merits a dignified place in history.
They gave Crimea away? All right, there are issues. But what would have you done in this situation? Without an army, with a bunch of traits in all intimate places of the state apparatus?
Therefore, the government in general and the prime minister personally have to receive top scores for stabilizing the government.
But there have been no reforms. De facto, there were none. Instead, all the corruption schemes were quickly mastered by new people. They weren’t all ministers: frequently the minister was just the front, void of power, and they stole behind his back.
This government gets the lowest score for the lack of reforms and corruption.
5. However this government couldn’t have implemented reforms and beaten corruption. It was pointless to expect it.
First, politicians don’t conduct reform as reforms are unpopular, and the politicians need popularity. They need to get reelected, and they remember this well every day. The quote attributed to Winston Churchill that the politician thinks of future elections and a statesman – of the next generation, is already stuck on our teeth.
Reforms are made by governments of professional technocrats who don’t have political ambitions, instead they have a high ambition of state creation.
Reforms are not made by coalition governments wherein all posts are distributed according to quotas. Quota officials now have to steal to pay back the “debt” to the politicians that nominated them. It is senseless to expect from coalition members that they will nominate to government posts not their own people but professional reformers.
Yes, the government will definitely include not only those guilty of corruption, as someone else has to work as well, someone has to be scapegoat, and someone has to hold the title of “our Minister from Maidan.” However these individuals don’t change the entire system.
Therefore it was senseless to expect the coalition government to stop corruption and conduct reforms. As this government was created by opposition parties that have already shamed themselves on Maidan.
Individual enlightened names are an exclusion that confirms the rule. We will remember them, and possibly see them again.
And,  in general, this government withstood the situation with war and state finances, and for this it should be thanked and respected. If someone thinks they would have done a better job, I am asking for a detailed action plan, accounting for all limitations and challenges.
6. Getting out of the type of constitutional crisis we had in December-February does not take one step. There are always three steps.
The first government, “the government of national salvation,” has to stabilize the situation. This has been done.
The second government has to be a government of reform, professional and independent. Reformers do their job, are subject to the people’s hate and then occupy their honorary places in history.
The third has to be the government of a already new country, to reflect the new, post-reform socio-political reality.
It is akin to a patient who is chronically sick and needs surgery, a complex and risky one, but their condition is aggravated. First, the doctors come who take down their fever and stabilize the analysis results, prepare them for surgery. Then the surgeons come, professional and merciless: they cut, clean out, stitch them up. And then, the third group of people come, who gradually and gently rehabilitate the patient, returning them to life – a new life in which there is no place left for the cured disease.
Therefore, the national salvation government does not make reforms only because it is a coalition government. Reforms are not their job. They stabilized the situation, they did not allow the war to spread, for bandits to rampage the entire territory, they did not allow default – this means that they did their job.
The work of the national salvation government cannot last forever. The time to move forward comes.
7. And here the key role goes to the parliament again. Reforms without a parliament are impossible – as in a parliamentary republic, reforms are made through legislative acts.
This parliament does not need reforms, it is incapable of making them. Therefore, let us say goodbye to this parliament.
And here we go on to the most important point.
Who formed the government that quickly mastered the corrupt schemes of Yanukovich’s time? Who did not pass the very pertinent laws regarding anti-corruption, lustration, the state budget etcetera? The parliamentary majority: UDAR, “Svoboda,” BYT. They made a reputation on Maidan. Yes, there were some enlightened individuals, and we remembered them. And we also remembered the dark figures.
And now our task, the task of the citizens, of civil society is to fully update the political system. Bring to the parliament the people that will appoint a reform government, that will pass reformative laws.
And we, the powerful society able to kick out the dictator, overpower a stronger enemy in war, achieve support from the global community – we are unable to do this as of yet.
  1. We are unable to elect well-meaning and patriotic people to the parliament. The Kyiv elections proved this. We are voting for the old party gangs filled with old black bile. We, the Kyivans, brought “Chernovetskiy’s young team” to the Kyiv City Council.
  2. We are unable to put pressure on new democratic microscopic political powers, for them to unite. They came to the Kyiv elections in seven columns instead of one and lost. They will go to the parliamentary elections in twelve columns instead of one and lose.
  3. We are unable to distinguish populism and short-term projects from fair and open politics. The populists, empty like kefir bottles, are gaining our votes at presidential and Kyiv elections.
  4. We are unable to provide transparency and fairness of elections even in the capital. The stealing of votes, buying votes, violation of legislation – and this in Kyiv that survived Maidan and won.
Despite everything that happened to us, and all the changes in our conscience, we turned out to be unprepared.
It is already clear how the seats in the future parliament will be distributed. It will be an even worse parliament than today.
Unless we ourselves change. And change the political state of things.
With our civic position. Our level of conscience. Our personal participation as independent observers. Our explanatory work among friends, family and acquaintances. Our volunteer work in the headquarters of a united democratic force, to which we have to enlist all those we trust.
With our maturity and resilience, mistrust of populism and political projects of oligarchs and political technologists, behind the backs of which the outlines of the red Kremlin wall are emerging.
8. It is possible they will accuse me of not commenting on who said what to whom yesterday and the day before. Whatever.
Politics is actions, not words. If boxing was evaluated by what the boxers say to each other and not what they are doing, it would be a completely different sport. Words quickly become obsolete; their only goal is to evoke action. We look at actions and ignore words. This is what they are saying to each other, not to us.
9. The issue of electoral law is the most critical. Will there by a majority in the parliament? Will there be open lists? Will party blocs be allowed? What will be the necessary minimum? Will financing be transparent?
We are watching closely. We demand change. This is the most important thing today to have a tomorrow.
And let us not forget: the guys will return from the front and ask us sternly what we were doing here while they were protecting us with their hearts on the line. They have to return to a country ready for a reboot.
10. This is a quest. We survived the first levels. They were difficult. But the next ones are no less difficult. We gained the right to pass these quest levels with our victory at the previous levels.
The end of dictatorship. War for independence. The birth of a political nation. The next levels: socio-political reboot, radical complex reforms, economical flourishing, international subjectivity, cultural expansion. It is impossible to skip those.
And this means that everything is going according to plan.
Let’s stop panicking.
Everything is going to be alright.

Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina
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Guest post: if EU leaders think this war will pass them by, they are wrong – beyondbrics - Blogs -

Guest post: if EU leaders think this war will pass them by, they are wrong – beyondbrics - Blogs -

By Ievgen Vorobiov of PISM
Three months of the Russia-led proxy war in Ukraine have claimed the lives of hundreds of Ukrainian servicemen and civilians. Until now, Western media have lazily ignored the complexity of the security crisis, while public opinion in the West has had more pressing concerns than an unfolding war on the edge of the European Union. EU politicians have had an easy ride in pretending to handle it.
But the downing of flight MH17 by pro-Russian militants is slowly changing perceptions in the West. It is still a war in a “faraway nation” but now with a dramatic number of foreign civilian casualties. If you had told a western European diplomat two weeks ago that EU citizens would be the next victims of Russia’s slowly-unfolding massacre in Ukraine, they would have dismissed you as paranoid and manipulative. Not any more.
The EU’s reaction to the downing of MH17 has evolved from cautious calls for investigation to a tentative consensus on the need to punish Russia for its support of the perpetrators. Yet talk of a resulting “de-escalation” seems out of place. It is clear that Russia aims to synchronize the cycles of violence in eastern Ukraine with symbolic gestures, such as allowing the separatists to give the aircraft’s black boxes to Malaysian authorities.
The shooting down of MH17 marks the first time in the whole Russian-Ukrainian war that the Russian propaganda machine has failed the Kremlin. Putin’s unexpected TV address on Sunday night was supposed to counter public outrage in the West without addressing its causes. The trick seems to have worked, at least partially. Continued bickering in the EU regarding the scope of sanctions has shown Russia it will have time for probing and coaxing EU member states even in times of the most critical crisis.
Cool-headed patience had its merits in the first 24 hours after the catastrophe, to let the facts be established. But the EU’s inaction is now laden with far deadlier consequences. The dangerous conclusion that Russia’s leadership will draw from the aftermath of MH17 is hardly counter-intuitive: killing EU citizens is not a “red line” at all, just a temporary irritant. Many of us in the think-tank community expected Russia to test the value of Nato guarantees at some point but no one expected it would happen so quickly and so covertly.
It may be tempting to view the downing of MH17 as a one-off event or an unpleasant accident. To do so overlooks the big picture of the conflict. True, audio recordings suggest the militants who launched the Buk missile did not realise it was a civilian aircraft full of foreign citizens. But the question of who gave the exact order to bring it down remains. All the leaders of the “separatist” groups are Russian citizens originating from or cooperating with Russian secret services.
To many of us watching the war in Ukraine, one pattern appears ever more distinct: if things can get worse, they will. This is a natural and horrible consequence of Russia’s attempts to raise the stakes for Ukraine and the West. Both should therefore brace themselves for worse. Gas supplies may be cut off not because Ukraine has not paid but as a result of attacks on the pipelines. That would make Austria think of ways to speed up South Stream all it wants this winter. Italy’s exports to Russia would be harmed by malfunctioning road and maritime infrastructure. Instead of dealing with talented Ukrainian students coming to study at its universities, Germany would have to increase its consular staff to deny entry to hundreds of migrants fleeing Ukraine. The EU’s fear of short-term losses will result in both financial losses and ballooning security risks.
Ukraine understands that fighting off Russia’s proxies will be a protracted matter. The government has already increased spending on the army and other security services and resumed a partial military draft. Russia’s tactics have so far relied on achieving a blitzkrieg in eastern Ukraine, similar to that in Crimea, but those tactics have failed. Although at a significant human cost, the Ukrainian army is proceeding with a slow but steady liberation of the Donbas cities from the militants. What Ukraine needs now is support for its military and for its capacity to control its borders.
The goal of sanctions against Russia is often framed in a wrong way. Deep sectoral sanctions are needed not to discourage Russia from waging war in eastern Ukraine but to cripple its capacity to sustain that effort in the long run. That requires a focus on the banking and energy sectors. The Russian leadership is emboldened to play the big game precisely because it does not believe the costs of waging war in Ukraine, imposed by the US and the EU, will be lasting or irreversible. The sanctions introduced by the US on July 16 may be the first sign of such consequences but the qualms being shown by the EU will have reassured the Russians.
Ukraine will fight off Russia’s proxies with or without the EU’s help. But if EU governments think that this war will pass them by, they are wrong. It is time to think of ways of limiting Russia’s capacity to wage this war in the long term rather than trying to deter the Kremlin from doing what it is intent on doing anyway.
Ievgen Vorobiov is a Ukraine analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs.
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In Ukraine, some updates on this week's abducted and missing journalist(s) - Committee to Protect Journalists

In Ukraine, some updates on this week's abducted and missing journalist(s) - Committee to Protect Journalists:

On Wednesday, we reported that in Ukraine this week, at least two journalists had gone missing, while pro-Russia separatists abducted a fixer and briefly detained a reporter. Also, the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic said it was banning journalists from the conflict area. We noted that press freedom violations "are happening at dizzying speed in eastern Ukraine."
Today, we got updates and clarifications on some of those cases:
  • On Tuesday, news reports said armed separatists in Donetsk stormed a local hotel room and abducted Anton Skiba, who was assisting a CNN film crew. Today, CNN confirmed that Skiba was working as a fixer for its team in Donetsk, saying he was taken away by a group of separatists who stopped the crew at the entrance to the hotel (rather than inside). CNN said the separatists were led by a "senior official from the rebel region" who identified himself as Alexandr Kalyussky. The separatists accused Skiba of terrorism and of posting cash rewards for the killing of separatist fighters on Facebook, then put him into a car and drove away, CNN said. The charges were later amended to being a "Ukrainian agent" and possessing multiple forms of identification with different surnames, the network said, adding that it is working toward his release.
  • On Wednesday, news reports citing the Kremlin-owned broadcast outlet Russia Today said two journalists--Graham Phillips, a contributor to Russia Today, and a cameraman with the pro-Russia news website ANNA News, identified only by his first name Vadim--have been missing since Tuesday, when they were last near the Donetsk airport. Russia Today said Phillips was in the hands of the Ukrainian army. Ukrainian authorities denied holding him, according to Russian news agencies RIA Novosti and Interfax. Today, I spoke to a representative at the press center for Ukraine's National Security Council, who said he had no information about Phillips' case. Just after our call, Russia Today and ANNA News reported that the cameraman, Vadim Aksyonov, had been released by the Ukrainian military today and that he claimed that Phillips was still being held by soldiers and had been moved to another location outside the conflict area. ANNA News, which appears to be affiliated with the separatists, said Aksyonov was a former separatist fighter.
  • Finally, we reported Wednesday that the press service of the Donetsk People's Republic had published a statement banning journalists from the conflict area. However, international broadcasters such as the BBC and CNN were still reporting from Donetsk today.
I visited Kiev earlier this month on a fact-finding mission on press freedom conditions in the country. I'll be publishing a report on my trip soon.
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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Feeling the strain – the EU or Putin? - YouTube #MH17 #Ukraine #Russia

Feeling the strain – the EU or Putin? - YouTube: ""

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Ukrainian prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk resigns | World news |

Ukrainian prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk resigns | World news |

Yatseniuk quits as he berates parliament for failing to pass law to increase army financing and regulate country's energy situation
Arseny Yatseniuk
Arseny Yatseniuk's impassioned speech underlined the frustration of many in Ukraine that change is taking too long. Photograph: Andrew Kravchenko/Government press service/EPA
Ukraine's prime minister has resigned after the governing coalition collapsed, in a sign that five months after the Maidan protests led to a change of government, the country's political system is still beset by discord.
The government is struggling to defeat an insurgency by pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, where a Malaysia Airlines jet was downed last Thursday.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, one of the leaders of the Maidan protests, was seen by many Ukrainians as a safe pair of hands, with his mild manner and intellectual demeanour. But he grew angry during Ukraine's parliamentary session as it failed to pass legislation to increase army financing and regulate the country's energy situation.
"History will not forgive us," he told parliament. "Our government now has no answer to the questions – how are we to pay wages, how are we tomorrow morning going to send fuel for armoured vehicles, how will we pay those families who have lost soldiers, to look after the army?"
The president, Petro Poroshenko, welcomed the move, which will lead to new elections, saying: "Society wants a full reset of state authorities."
Although Ukrainians elected Poroshenko in May, there have yet to be new parliamentary elections since the former president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled. Yatsenyuk is likely to stay on in a caretaker role before a new poll.
Rumours are that Poroshenko wants to end the insurgency in the east before 24 August – Ukrainian independence day. The army has made significant gains in driving the rebels out of a number of towns, including the former stronghold of Slavyansk, but the separatists still control Donetsk, a city of 1 million, and much of the region around it.
The area where flight MH17 fell to the ground last Thursday, apparently after being destroyed by a missile, is also inside rebel-held territory. This has led to controversial cleanup efforts in which the site has been left unsecured for a week since the crash. Bodies recovered at the site were dispatched by train on Monday night to the government-controlled city of Kharkiv. On Wednesday, the first bodies were flown to the Netherlands, where they will be identified before being flown to their countries of origin. More than half of the 298 victims were Dutch.
Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said monitors had found new chunks of fuselage on Thursday in locations they had not visited before – a sign of how much work remains to be done for a proper investigation to take place. He also said the monitors were still finding human remains at the site.
Two Australian diplomats visited the crash site on Thursday, the first to visit the area. Australia lost 28 citizens in the crash and the prime minister, Tony Abbott, said Australian police officers were on standby to travel to the crash site and help secure it.
"There has still not been anything like a thorough professional search of the area where the plane went down and there can't be while the site is controlled by armed men with vested interest in the outcome of the investigation," he said.
The Dutch Safety Board, which is coordinating the investigation, said on Thursday that material from both black box flight recorders had been downloaded by British experts, who had found no evidence they had been tampered with.There is mounting evidence that MH17 was brought down in error by separatists who thought they were firing a Buk missile at a Ukrainian military jet. Rebel leaders have denied they were ever in possession of a Buk system, but numerous eyewitnesses told the Guardian they saw a Buk in the area on the day of the crash. One rebel boss, Alexander Khodakovsky, told Reuters that the rebels did have a Buk, which he intimated may have come from Russia. He later insisted he had been misquoted.

#Ukraine Coalition Government Collapses as 2 Parties Quit - Bloomberg

Ukraine Coalition Government Collapses as 2 Parties Quit - Bloomberg:

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg
Yanukovych’s successor, billionaire Petro Poroshenko, had pledged to call parliamentary... Read More
Ukraine’s coalition collapsed after two parties quit during a months-long pro-Russian insurgency in the nation’s east that downed a Malaysian Air jet last week.
The UDAR and Svoboda parties said they’d leave the government and seek a snap parliamentary ballot, according to statements today on their websites. Under the constitution, the former Soviet republic has 30 days to form a new coalition or it must call early elections. The existing cabinet will remain in place in the meantime.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s government, took over the country in February after pro-European street protests prompted Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovychto flee to Russia. Yanukovych’s successor, billionaire Petro Poroshenko, had pledged to call parliamentary elections this year.
“We will probably have snap parliamentary elections at the end of October,” Yuriy Yakymenko, the head of political research at the Razumkov Center, said by phone from Kiev today. “This option was probably agreed on by political parties seeking elections and the president.”
The government and the current parliament will keep working until new institutions are formed, he said. Olga Lappo, Yatsenyuk’s spokeswoman, declined to comment when reached by phone today.
Yields on Ukrainian government bonds due 2023 rose to 8.31 percent as of 1 p.m. from 8.221 percent yesterday, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Ukraine’s hryvnia declined to 11.75 per dollar, compared with 11.68 yesterday.
To contact the reporter on this story: Daria Marchak in Kiev at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at James M. Gomez, Andrea Dudik
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