WASHINGTON — The Biden administration accused Moscow on Friday of sending saboteurs into eastern Ukraine to stage an incident that could provide President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia with a pretext for ordering an invasion of parts or all of the country. The White House did not release details of the evidence it had collected to back up its charge, though one official said it was a mix of intercepted communications and observations of the movements of people. In an email, a U.S. official wrote that “Russia is laying the groundwork to have the option of fabricating a pretext for invasion, including through sabotage activities and information operations, by accusing Ukraine of preparing an imminent attack against Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.” John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, called the intelligence about the operation “very credible” when asked about it at a Pentagon briefing on Friday. The U.S. official who described the intelligence, who spoke on the condition of … [Read more...] about U.S. Charges Russia Sent Saboteurs Into Ukraine to Create Pretext for Invasion
Russia emerges as key backer of myanmars military post coup
BRUSSELS — Dealing a defiant blow to the Kremlin, President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine signed a long-delayed trade pact with Europe on Friday that Moscow had bitterly opposed. He then declared he would like his country to one day become a full member of the European Union. In so doing, Ukraine’s new leader, a billionaire confectionary magnate, has in effect raised a risky bet on the West that has cost his country hundreds of lives and the loss of the Crimean peninsula to Russia and has set off a low-level civil war in its eastern border region. By signing the trade pact at the Brussels headquarters of the European Union, Mr. Poroshenko revived a deal whose rejection last November by his predecessor, Viktor F. Yanukovych, set off months of pro-European protests in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, and pushed the West into its biggest test of wills with Russia since the end of the Cold War. The unrest toppled Mr. Yanukovych and drove pro-Russian activists in Crimea and the eastern … [Read more...] about Defying Russia, Ukraine Signs E.U. Trade Pact
VIENNA — Russian officials signaled on Thursday that they might abandon diplomatic efforts to resolve the security crisis surrounding Ukraine, bringing a whirlwind week of European diplomacy to an ominous end and deflating hopes that negotiators could forge a path toward easing tensions in Eastern Europe. One senior Russian diplomat said that talks with the West were approaching a “dead end,” while another said the Kremlin would wait until it received written responses to its demands from Washington and from NATO next week before deciding how to proceed. It was clear that Russia’s next move would be up to President Vladimir V. Putin, who, his spokesman said on Thursday, was being briefed regularly this week on negotiations with the West. “The United States and its allies are actually saying ‘no’ to key elements of these texts,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei A. Ryabkov, said, referring to the draft agreements with NATO and Washington that Russia published last month . … [Read more...] about Russia, at an Impasse With the West, Warns It Is Ready to Abandon Diplomacy
LUHANSK, Ukraine — Separatists in Ukraine used a shoulder-fired missile to shoot down a large Ukrainian military transport jet as it was trying to land at an airport in this eastern city on Saturday, killing all 49 people on board, the military said. The attack was the deadliest episode for the Ukrainian military since the unrest began in the country’s east. “On approach to the Luhansk airport a Ukrainian armed forces military transport Il-76 airplane was shot down with an antiaircraft rocket system,” the military wing of the prosecutor general’s office said in a statement. “In addition to the nine crew members, 40 paratroopers were on board. All of them died.” The statement said the office had opened an investigation into what it called a terrorist act. Separatists from the self-declared People’s Republic of Luhansk confirmed that they had shot down the jet and said that all military airplanes in the area, which is near the border with Russia, were targets. A surveillance video … [Read more...] about Separatists Down Military Transport Jet, Killing 49 in Eastern Ukraine
WASHINGTON - Senior Democratic senators on Wednesday will unveil a fresh package of sanctions to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin if he invades Ukraine, an effort backed by the White House as the administration seeks to tamp down defections on a competing measure targeting Moscow set for a closely watched Senate vote this week. The effort, led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., gives an effective off-ramp for Democrats who have publicly wavered on whether to vote in favor of a bill that would reprimand Russia over Nord Stream 2, a Russia-to-Germany natural gas pipeline that has become enmeshed in a political fight in Washington. The vote on that bill, drafted by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is happening only as part of a deal hammered out last month that unlocked confirmations for a slew of ambassador picks in exchange for a vote on blocking the nearly finished Nord Stream 2, which critics say could significantly expand Putin's influence over … [Read more...] about Senate Democrats, with White House backing, prepare Russia sanctions bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — With the fate of Ukraine and potentially broader post-Cold War European stability at stake, the United States and Russia are holding critical strategic talks that could shape the future of not only their relationship but the relationship between the U.S. and its NATO allies. Prospects are bleak. Though the immediacy of the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine will top the agenda in a series of high-level meetings that get underway on Monday, there is a litany of festering but largely unrelated disputes, ranging from arms control to cybercrime and diplomatic issues, for Washington and Moscow to overcome if tensions are to ease. And the recent deployment of Russian troops to Kazakhstan may cast a shadow over the entire exercise. With much at risk and both warning of dire consequences of failure, the two sides have been positioning themselves for what will be a nearly unprecedented flurry of activity in Europe this week. Yet the wide divergence in their opening … [Read more...] about Prospects dim as US, Russia prepare to meet over Ukraine
By KONSTANTIN MANENKOV and JAMEY KEATEN GENEVA (AP) — A top Russian diplomat pressed the United States on Monday to ease a post-Cold War chill over Ukraine, ratcheting up Moscow’s demands that NATO pledge to stop giving membership to former Soviet states and halt weapons shipments to them that have led to what he called a “precarious” standoff. With both sides dug in on their positions, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said “no progress” was made on the central demand to halt NATO expansion, although he insisted: “We have no intention to invade Ukraine.” Ryabkov spoke after his delegation wrapped up roughly 5-1/2 hours of talks with a U.S. team led by his U.S. counterpart, Wendy Sherman. The talks by senior U.S. and Russian officials are part of a flurry of diplomatic activity in Europe this week aimed at defusing tensions over a Russian military buildup on the border with Ukraine. Putin described NATO’s expansion to Ukraine and other Russian ex-Soviet neighbors as a … [Read more...] about Russia notes no progress on talks with US over Ukraine, NATO
President Joe Biden is not planning to answer a further Russian invasion of Ukraine by sending combat troops. But he could pursue a range of less dramatic yet still risky military options, including supporting a post-invasion Ukrainian resistance. The rationale for not directly joining a Russia-Ukraine war is simple. The United States has no treaty obligation to Ukraine, and war with Russia would be an enormous gamble, given its potential for expanding in Europe destabilizing the region, and escalating to the frightening point of risking a nuclear exchange. Doing too little has its risks, too. It might suggest an acquiescence to future Russian moves against other countries in eastern Europe, such as the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, although as NATO members those three have security assurances from the United States and the rest of the alliance. Secretary of State Antony Blinken who is in Europe this week to speak with officials in Ukraine, … [Read more...] about EXPLAINER: What are US military options to help Ukraine?
Ukrainian servicemen walk past a minefield warning sign on the front line with Russia-backed separatists near Luganske in Ukraine’s Donetsk region. Photo: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images Over the past few months, Russia has amassed tens of thousands of soldiers, along with tanks, artillery, and other materiel near its border with Ukraine in what U.S. intelligence (and much of the world) has interpreted as a buildup in preparation for an invasion. At the same time, online propaganda and disinformation activity has increased , as have cyberattacks on Ukrainian targets, including one that took down several government websites on Friday. It is no coincidence that these ominous activities look strikingly similar to the lead-up to Russia’s 2014 invasion of its weaker neighbor, in which it annexed Crimea and launched the still-ongoing insurgency by Moscow-backed separatists in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Indeed, if Russia does send troops into Ukraine in the … [Read more...] about Is Another Russian Invasion of Ukraine Inevitable?
Things have quieted down in Kazakhstan after a week of protests across the country. The 2,500 troops (part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization) sent by Russia at the request of Kazakhstani President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev are preparing to withdraw. So far, 164 people have died and over 8,000 have been arrested. Meanwhile, “Father of the Nation,” Nursultan Nazarbayev, the 81-year-old autocrat who ruled the country for 30 plus years, is out and his family, too. Papa Nazarbayev was forced to exit, as were most of those close to and associated with the former regime; as the unrest unfolded, another story did as well: the purging of the Nazarbayev clan. The splendors and spoils accumulated by the family and the extensive patronage network affiliated with it is the president’s next target. The protests triggered by the doubling in the price of liquefied petroleum gas and other economic grievances quickly moved to also call for political demands. The chant “old man out” about … [Read more...] about The Kazakhstan purge: Power, politics and geopolitical disruption