Friday, April 25, 2014
Putin cuts off talks with Obama as violence increases in Ukraine and Europe gets closer to war
The Daily Beast said, “Putin will not talk to Obama under pressure,” quoting Igor Yurgens, a close associate of the Russian president.
The day began with both Kiev and Moscow saying Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine had shot down a government helicopter.
The Kiev Post said Russian-backed insurgents held at least 30 buildings in eastern Ukranian towns.
The Post reported that an unknown number of rebels were killed. There was no word on what kind of helicopter was shot down, or the number of casualties. The attack suggests Russia has supplied the insurgents with ground-to-air missiles.
The new European Union-backed government was barraged by escalating threats from Russia, but so far President Vladimir Putin’s forces were sticking to running the insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
The Washington Post reported Kiev “brushed off” the threat of Russian intervention.
“There’s been no suspension of the ATO (anti-terror operation) in the face of threats from an invasion by Russian armed forces,” Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said.
“The terrorists should be on their guard around the clock. Civilians have nothing to fear.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister told the Associated Press his country is ready to fight after the Crimea takeover and the recent seizure of buildings in the eastern Ukraine. “ “having this experience, we will now fight with Russian troops if ... they invade Ukraine.”
Later Friday the BBC reported that the Ukrainian interior minister said a bus carrying observers from the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe had been seized Russian gunmen.
US Secretary of State John Kerry [Unlink] said Moscow had created the insurgency, and new sanctions were being considered. Kerry said it would be an “expensive mistake” if Putin doesn’t call off the dogs of war.
Support was growing from both US political parties for sending lethal and protective aid to the Ukraine.
“If they need them, we should provide them. I would support that,” said Sen. Carl Levin [Unlink] (D-Mich.), who is chairman of the Senate Committee on the Armed Services.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel [Unlink] is getting on board. She said she spoke to Putin on Friday morning and told him to conform to the Geneva agreement, The Guardian reported.
“I spoke to the Russian president this morning and made clear again that on the one hand Ukraine has taken a whole series of steps to implement the Geneva accord but on the other side I see no Russian backing for the accord which would of course have an effect on the separatists in Ukraine,” she said.
Russia made a belated offer to use its control of the insurgents to calm Ukraine. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the rebels would put down their weapons if Kiev pulled back.
Washington opened a new front by accusing Syria of refusing to honor its Moscow-backed commitment to destroy its huge chemical weapons stash. Some geopolitical experts have said the way to block Putin's adventurism is on the road to Damascus. International officials accused the Syrian regime of continuing to manufacture chlorine gas and of using chemical weapons against its opponents.
France raised the Kremlin’s hackles by sending warplanes to join a NATO exercise in the Baltic states.
That led to a chorus of attacks on France, and its alleged lack of military prowess by Putin’s compliant Russian media.
Russian Television, perhaps the most rabid, must have had a crew at the ready, as it published smoke from what it said was the chopper that was shot down.
“Our people approached the airfield, shot a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) in the direction of the helicopter. There was an explosion. [Kiev] militants started shooting and we [protesters] retreated,” a representative from the Kramatorsk self-defense troops told RIA Novosti.
Russian media splashed reports of Putin’s troops massed on the Russian border, 11,000 by one estimate though Western intelligence said it was much more.
Masha Gessen, author of “Man Without a Face,” a biography of Putin, told Allvoices the Russian leader was in total control of the Kremlin and was unlikely to back off. She spoke at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Putin was accused of being willing to start World War III [Unlink].
Ukraine acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said: "The aggressive efforts of the Russian military on Ukraine's soil will lead to a conflict on European soil," reports quoted him as saying in a televised cabinet meeting.
"The world hasn't forgotten the Second World War and Russia wants to start a third world war," he said.
Putin’s lack of understanding of economics was apparent as his Central Bank surprisingly raised its borrowing costs to support the ruble. The vast majority of economists had predicted that wouldn’t be necessary under the light sanctions imposed so far, Bloomberg reported.
Standard and Poors lowered Russia's creditworthiness to B on Friday.