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Thread: World War Three Thread....

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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    MH17: Australia takes a hard line on Russia

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    Daniel Flitton



    When the phone rings at 3.30 in the morning, it’s almost never good news.


    Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had spent last Thursday night celebrating her birthday, and then the early call came, barely three hours after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed to the ground.


    A phone rang for Prime Minister Tony Abbott about the same time.


    In every hour since, Abbott, Bishop and Australian officials have tried to manage a ferocious appetite, for information and firm action.


    First there was caution. “Let’s not leap to conclusions until we have harder facts than we do at the moment,” Abbott said on ABC radio on Friday morning.


    Then followed the first of what has become a daily meeting of cabinet’s National Security Committee. Officials from Australia’s intelligence agencies reported on hastily compiled evidence that indicated Russian-backed rebels had indeed shot down the plane.


    Abbott’s caution gave way. “If, as now seems certain, [the plane] been brought down by a Russian supplied surface-to-air missile, Russia bears a heavy share of responsibility,” he said in his next radio interview.


    Within the space of a few hours, Abbott and Bishop had gone from shock to grim certitude.


    But by so openly fingering Russia for culpability, they took a big risk – a risk that so far has paid off.


    The aim was to put steel in the international response to the attack and not see it brushed aside as a terrible accident. Abbott called leaders from Netherlands, Ukraine, Britain, the US, Malaysia, Germany, New Zealand and France – some several times.


    “The mood of the leaders that I spoke to is firmer and sterner now than it was in the 24 hours immediately subsequent to the downing of this aircraft,” Abbott said on Monday.


    Abbott’s forthright criticism of Vladimir Putin had not impressed the Russian leader.


    Perhaps as a rebuke, the Kremlin issued a statement after the two spoke on Monday stating they had agreed to avoid politicised statements in connection with the tragedy.
    But Abbott remained tight-lipped about the conversation, only to say Putin had said all the right things.


    “I want to stress what he said was fine. The challenge now is to hold the president to his word. That’s certainly my intention and it should be the intention of the family of nations.”


    That is where Bishop now plays her role in New York, at the United Nations.


    Australia will take advantage of its seat on the Security Council to sponsor its own Security Council resolution that demands unfettered access to the crash site.


    Returning the bodies of the 298 victims to their families is the first priority, then for an investigation by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.


    The Dutch, who lost more nationals on this flight than any other nation, would be well placed to lead events on the other side of the world.


    “We will do our best to craft a resolution which under the circumstances no reasonable person could object to,” Abbott said.


    And Russia – who wields a veto on the council – appeared willing, with one important caveat.


    That Moscow not be blamed.
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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    Blame game

    Putin points finger at Ukraine in downing of Malaysia Airlines jet


    By Sergei L. Loiko contact the reporter

    RussiaUkraineVladimir PutinKiev (Kiev Oblast, Ukraine)Public Transportation DisastersNews AgencyNetherlands

    Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that investigators get access to the Malaysian Airlines crash site


    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday again attempted to sidestep any blame in connection with last week's downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet and demanded that international teams be ensured safe access to the crash site.
    "Everything should be done to ensure [international experts] full and absolute safety, and to create humanitarian zones essential for their work," Putin said in an urgent televised address that also appeared on the Kremlin's official website. "For its part, Russia will do all it can to transition the conflict in eastern Ukraine from today's military stage toward the negotiation phase."
    Putin didn't clarify how Russia would try to achieve that, and he again blamed Ukraine's government for the tragedy.
    "I can say with confidence that if on June 28 combat activities in eastern Ukraine had not been resumed, this tragedy most likely would not have happened," he said. "At the same time, no one has a right to use this tragedy to achieve their narrowly selfish political ends."
    In recent days Putin has drawn international fire over allegations that the Kremlin incited and armed pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine with weapons including sophisticated anti-aircraft systems, one of which was apparently used to down the Malaysian Airlines passenger jet over the Donbass region, killing all 298 aboard.
    Putin insisted that officials responsible for the Ukraine situation "should acknowledge their responsibility both before their own people and before the peoples of those countries whose representatives were among the victims of this catastrophe."
    The early-morning timing of the address and its somewhat blurred wording indicated that Putin was more than a little concerned about the situation, said Dmitry Oreshkin, a Russian senior political expert.
    "Feeling that every new day brings more understanding to the question of who stands behind the downing of the plane, Putin in a statement close to hysteria in its undertones hurried to state that Russia will never admit anything and will never agree to any findings pointing a finger at the Kremlin," said Oreshkin, a political scientist with the Academy of Sciences Geography Institute.
    "Putin's message to the world is clear: 'Whatever you learn and whatever you say, you have no right to blame me for what happened, especially if you use it in your dirty political games."
    The tragedy has narrowed Putin's room for maneuvering, Oreshkin said.
    "Putin is no longer in a position to continue open support for pro-Russia separatists in the region, let alone deploy troops in Ukraine," he said. "On the other hand, Putin loses face both with the rebels in Ukraine and his radical supporters in Russia who counted on seeing a new Stalin in him and sincerely believed that he would send Russian troops into Ukraine at some point."
    Some separatist leaders are already openly calling Putin "a traitor to their cause, which may explain some of the urgency that must have compelled the Kremlin leader to deliver a sudden statement in the middle of the night," Oreshkin said.
    Dmitry Orlov, a pro-Kremlin political scientist, said Putin was sending a clear message to Western leaders that Kiev authorities won't get the flight recorders from the airliner and that the investigation should be carried out solely by an unbiased international aviation commission.
    "Putin has enough fortitude not to succumb to any form of pressure before the end of the investigation," said Orlov, general director of the Agency for Political and Economic Communication, a Moscow-based think tank. "The urgency of the statement indicates Putin's extreme concern with the situation and his desire to see the investigation proceeding in an unhindered and most transparent way."
    But Oreshkin said Putin must count on the separatists in Ukraine to remove and hide any evidence linking the Kremlin to the jet downing.
    Pro-Russia militants have found the flight recorders and were ready to hand them over to an international commission, an official of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic said Monday.
    "Visually they are in excellent condition with no damage detected," Sergei Kavtaradze, a member of the formation's Security Council, said in an interview with the Interfax news agency. "I have spoken to representatives of the Malaysian side, [who] I hope will get down here quickly. We will hand over 'the black boxes' only to international experts."
    Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk said Monday that his country was ready to give the Netherlands, which lost the most citizens in the crash, the role of investigation coordinator.
    "As the side that suffered most, the Netherlands may lead the investigation in close coordination and cooperation with all other parties," Yatseniuk said at a briefing in Kiev.
    In the meantime, 277 bodies of crash victims have been found on the site, and 251 of them have been loaded into train cars, Yatseniuk said. He complained that the pro-Russia separatists were preventing the bodies from being examined by authorities and prepared for their return to family members.
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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    Kerry on his way to... Cairo.... wtf? Not to Israel?
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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    On the plane.... Jennifer Griffin from FNC says US Intelligence agencies have a "mountain of circumstantial evidence" that leads 'right back to to Moscow'. John Kerry admitted this as well in an interview.
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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    Obabbler going to speak shortly (10 minutes?) on Ukraine.
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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    Lupica: Vladimir Putin enabled destruction of Malaysia Flight MH17 by starting war with Ukraine

    Putin is a gold-plated phony and fraud. He promised transparency in the aftermath of a commercial plane being shot down this way, only now he lets these separatists turn a terrible crime scene into some stupid frat party.

    NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
    Sunday, July 20, 2014, 11:38 PM

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    BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images Ukrainian State Emergency Service employees collect bodies of victims at the site of the crash of the Malaysia Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine on Sunday

    It was two months ago, the commencement at Boston College, when Secretary of State Kerry spoke eloquently to the graduates, my son one of them, about the world we all want them to help make, a world so much better than the one they have inherited from us. It means a world less filled with hatred and violence, created by bad guys like Vladimir Putin.
    “We have to make sure that even as our world changes rapidly and in so many ways, we can still, each of us, give new meaning to our values,” Kerry said that Monday in May, two months before a Boeing 777 jet filled with nearly 300 innocent people was shot out of the sky over Ukraine.
    Now our country has to find the best way to bring meaning to its values in dealing with separatist, pro-Putin thugs who mass-murdered those people because of a situation in Ukraine that Putin created when he decided to deestablish a sovereign state because he could. It reminds you of the old joke that asks why dogs lick themselves. The answer is because they can.
    The trick for President Obama, and some of our rather gutless allies, is to make Putin accountable for what happened with Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, downed this way by dogs of war that Putin unleashed, without making Putin more dangerous to the world than he already is in the process.
    ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images Russia's President Vladimir Putin has accepted no responsibility for the plane crash.


    Putin is a gold-plated phony and fraud, of course, this man who said that everything he has done is to restore Russian pride. He promised transparency in the aftermath of a commercial plane being shot down this way, only now he lets these separatists turn a terrible crime scene into some stupid frat party.

    On Sunday, Kerry spoke on Fox News of “drunken separatists” throwing bodies in the backs of trucks. So start there, with actions that Putin could have stopped with one phone call sending in troops and guns. Kerry spoke of bodies being removed, and evidence being destroyed. Finally, Kerry said this, on the day when he spoke of powerful evidence that Russia supplied the weapons that killed those people:
    “What’s happening is really grotesque and it is contrary to everything that Putin and Russia said they would do.”
    Putin, this vain idiot who actually thinks he looks good riding shirtless on horses, desperately wants to be seen around the world as some sort of dynamic political star. We saw it constantly at the Sochi Winter Olympics, and already he is looking forward to the World Cup four years from now, something he sees as one more insanely expensive advertisement for the new Russia. Only now we discover that Putin’s governance is as old and dangerous as any his country has ever produced.
    Armed pro-Russian separatists block the way to the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Grabove, in the region of Donetsk on Sunday.



    BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

    He is the one who set this terrible and ultimately tragic chain of events in motion, even as he hides from them now; even as he accepts no accountability for what happened; even as he apparently wants to blame everybody else for the consequences of his own arrogance and ambition. Rep. Pete King, once chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and now one of its members, called out Putin as nothing more than some cheap political gangster on Sunday, spoke of going after Putin’s money in any way possible, just as a start.
    “Without question he is morally responsible for what happened,” King (R-L.I.) told me later. “A human tragedy of this proportion was created by weapons that a world leader gave to these people. Think about it: Putin’s country doesn’t just arm these separatists, it arms them with weaponry sophisticated enough to shoot down an aircraft flying at 33,000 feet. Civilized people can’t allow this to stand.”
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has pleaded to Russia to stop the separatists who removed the bodies from the site of the plane crash.





    King said, “No one is suggesting military action here. But if he sees that the rest of the world isn’t willing to impose serious sanctions, what’s to stop the guy from just continuing to push?”


    Somehow, Putin has to be shamed here and sanctioned and hurt, without him turning around and using those sanctions as an excuse to hurt more innocent people in Ukraine.


    Vladimir Putin didn’t aim that missile at Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, or fire it. But if it is true that he provided the weapons, how can you look at him as anything more than an accessory after the fact?


    “You don’t give a machine gun to the psycho who lives next door,” Pete King said, “and then act surprised when he starts mowing people down.”


    Putin will never stand trial for 298 people slaughtered this way. But he started all of this by starting the war in Ukraine, maybe because of some cockeyed notion that he could put back together the old Soviet Union. He enabled this crime. It makes him more than a bad guy. It means the real dog of war in this story, the real mutt, is him.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    Boys and Girls.... welcome to today's class. It will be short and to the point.

    This thread has been here for some time for this very reason.

    I just posted some notes over in the Ukraine thread.

    I'm going to reiterate a bit here.

    1) Russia has been verified to be shooting heavy artillery weapons from RUSSIAN TERRITORY into the Ukraine.

    2) Russia is CLAIMING the Ukrainians have been doing the same thing.

    3) Yesterday 2 Ukrainian fighter jets were blasted out of the sky - rumors say it was by Russian jets that crossed over, but I can't get official confirmation yet.

    4) One week ago today a jet filled with innocent Malaysians, Danes, Brits, and Aussies was shot out of the sky and then a whole lot of bullshit ensued.

    5) 3 minutes ago, the Pentagon absolutely CONFIRMED that this was INDEED Russian MILITARY units firing into the Ukraine at military targets.


    The lesson today... "Escalation". Going from a state of peace, to a state of high alert, to a state of war - rapidly in some cases.

    Today, we are observing the critical mass of problems escalating to an out right shooting war.

    You are hereby warned; get your stuff together, get ready for something bigger than all of us. Bigger than me ranting about it, bigger than all the survivalists on the planet screaming "PREPARE!", bigger than stupid Obama and his BS.

    War with Russia is about to start.

    By the way, naysayers... Congress declares war, not the President. While Obama will certainly balk at doing anything (considering he appears to be in Putin's pants with his "flexibility") he will have very little choice if Congress says "Not so fast Mr. Putin, our military would like to chat with yours...."

    Watch the news. Be ready. If you live in a nuclear target... be ready to evacuate.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    Ok, actual article now...

    CBS/APJuly 24, 2014, 3:19 PM
    U.S.: Russia firing artillery at Ukraine military


    A pro-Russian separatist from the Vostok (East) battalion stands in front of T-64 tanks in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, July 16, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

    WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is accusing Russia of firing artillery to hit Ukrainian military sites and planning to send pro-Russian separatists more lethal weaponry.


    The State Department says the U.S. has evidence that Russia is shelling Ukraine from sites inside Russia. Spokeswoman Marie Harf also says the U.S. has new evidence Russia intends to deliver "heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers" to separatists battling Ukrainian forces in the east of the country.


    Harf declined to provide details or elaborate on the evidence because she said she could not get into intelligence "source and methods."

    The U.S. has repeatedly accused Russia of stoking the Ukraine rebellion and alleges that Russia is ultimately responsible for last week's downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine.


    CBS News' David Martin reported that U.S. officials have detected a slow but steady increase in the number of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border in recent days, from 10-12,000 to 12-14,000.


    Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced his resignation Thursday, opening the way for new elections that would reflect the country's starkly changed political scene after the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February.


    Yatsenyuk, a supporter of closer ties with Europe and a key participant in the protests that toppled Yanukovych, made the announcement from the dais of Parliament after two parties said they would pull out of the governing coalition. He said Parliament could no longer do its work and pass necessary laws.



    President Petro Poroshenko, elected to replace Yanukovych May 25, earlier praised the withdrawal of the two parties. He said that "all opinion polls, and direct conversations with people, show that society wants a complete rebooting of the government."


    Poroshenko's calls for political renewal suggests the resignation and new elections are the result of planning and political maneuvering, not chaos.


    Yatsenyuk took over as prime minister just short of five months ago supported by a coalition of pro-European parties. They took power after Yanukovych was driven from office by months of street protests on Kiev's Independence Square, or Maidan.


    The protests began over Yanukovych's refusal to sign a sweeping trade deal with the European Union, but swelled to include wider grievances such as the government's attempts to suppress the protests with riot police, corruption, and lack of progress in modernizing the economy.


    "I think this is a fully expected and planned development," said Balazs Jarabik, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "The president and the government coalition looked for ways to clear the legal way for an early election, as they are under a lot of pressure from Maidan and the public."


    The president can dismiss Parliament for new elections if no new government is formed in 30 days.


    The current Parliament was originally dominated by Yanukovych supporters in the pro-Russian Party of Regions. That group has shrunk through defections and its members face an uncertain fate in new elections.


    When he took office, Yatsenyuk's administration was expected to be a brief one because it was taking over with the government almost broke and facing the likelihood of adopting unpopular measures to satisfy conditions for rescue loans from the International Monetary Fund. It succeeded in landing the IMF bailout and last week IMF officials said the government was meeting almost all its financial targets.


    The government faces tensions with Russia which termed Yanukovych's ouster a coup, seized Ukraine's Crimea region and cut off natural gas supplies in a price dispute.


    It has also battled a pro-Russian insurgency in which rebels armed with heavy weapons such as tanks and anti-aircraft missiles have seized public buildings and battled government troops. Russia denies supporting the rebels.


    The nationalist Svoboda party and the Udar party led by former boxer Vitali Klitschko pulled out of Yatsenyuk's coalition.


    Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchynov said it was up to Udar and Svoboda to propose a candidate for temporary prime minister to lead the government until early parliamentary elections can be held.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....




    Doug Schoen Contributor Follow

    I'm a political strategist, pollster, author and commentator. full bio →





    Washington 1,169 views

    Pentagon Says Russia Firing Artillery Directly Into Ukraine From Within Its Borders


    Things just got even more heated in Ukraine.


    During a press briefing yesterday, State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf claimed that Moscow is boosting its military shipments to the separtists in Ukraine.


    “We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful rocket launchers to separatist forces in Ukraine and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attach Ukrainian military positions,” Harf told reporters.


    Although the US still hasn’t determined what brought down the two Ukrainian fighter jets planes on Wednesday – rebels have claimed responsibility saying they used man-portable, shoulder-fired missiles – US officials are confident that Russia has been firing across the border.







    “For several days the Russians have been firing artillery into Ukraine,” said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. “This is clearly a military escalation.”


    This new information certainly makes it even more obvious that the Russians were behind the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 last week.


    To be sure, Putin’s denials were weak to begin with. But now that we know that in the face of international criticism he has decided to increase support to the separtists as opposed to help the effort to pull them back, there is no reason to treat him as anything but an enemy.


    It is my hope that this new development will spark new debate in Europe on the need to levy tougher sanctions on Russia.


    “Almost every European state has voluntarily handed over power to Mr. Putin, allowing him to play countries against each other,” said Marietje Schaake, an influential member of the European Parliament. “We should choose for energy independency, for principles, human rights and rule of law. But that is not what we are doing now.”


    Though it took longer than many would’ve liked, the US has finally stood up for our principles, human rights and rule of law through the latest round of sanctions. They surely could go further and target Putin himself and this may very well happen if things continue as they have. But it is time that Europe at least catches up with the US.


    The toll will be heavy for many European countries. For instance, Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, has its head office in the Hague and is one of the world’s largest investors in Russian gas fields in Siberia. Thus far, Shell has declined to comment on whether they will reconsider their investment in light of the MH17 crash.


    European nations must consider that there is so much more to lose than money at this point.


    Standing up to Russia and Putin is a matter of national character, which is arguably more important than a nation’s coffers. It’s high time that Europe recognized this.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    U.S., Ukraine say Russians increase shipments of heavy war equipment to separatists

    By Matthew Schofield and Nancy A. Youssef
    McClatchy Foreign StaffJuly 24, 2014 Updated 1 hour ago
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    A pro-Russian rebel looks up while ridding on a tank flying Russia's flag, on a road east of Donetsk on Monday.
    VADIM GHIRDA — AP








    KIEV, Ukraine — Three Ukrainian border guard brigades were said to be close to eating grass to survive, running out of ammunition and food, trapped on the eastern edge of their country between Russian separatists to their west and fire coming in from Russia to their east.


    It’s a siege that began July 11 as the troops tried to protect the Ukrainian border with Russia near Zelenopolye. The first night, 23 Ukrainian troops died, 93 were wounded badly, and while they’ve managed to evacuate 75 of the wounded and reinforcements arrived Thursday, the struggle on the border points out a single truth of this allegedly internal war in the so-called Donbas region:
    If there is to be victory in Ukraine’s months-old civil war in the southeast, it will begin along the Russian border.


    Ukrainian and U.S. officials insist Russia has an established and continuing supply and resupply of weapons and experienced troops and advisers flowing in to help the pro-Russian separatists.


    And the United States said Thursday that it had evidence that Russia is launching artillery fire across its border and providing heavier rocket launchers into Ukraine, in what Pentagon officials described as a “clear escalation” of the conflict.


    “We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine, and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military formations,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters at the department’s daily briefing.


    Ukrainians say the fight against that resupply will have to focus on villages such as Izvarino and Dolzhanskaya and Chervonopartyzansk, places that usually are barely considered but in this conflict are central to any chance of Ukrainian victory.
    The network of paved and unpaved roads in and around these border villages forms the backbone of the supply lines from Russia to the pro-Russian separatists. Or, put in an American historical context, these spots are essential to the Ho Chi Minh Trail of the Ukrainian conflict.
    Col. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, noted that in this area, “the attacks are almost continuous.”
    He also noted that the fire from Russia creates a dangerous dilemma for the Ukrainian military. The fire puts them in danger, but returning fire would legitimize Russian troops moving into the region openly and in large numbers.


    Thus far, the Ukrainians had maintained a delicate balance, Lysenko said. The most noted piece of heavy equipment alleged to have rolled into this conflict from Russia is the Buk anti-aircraft system allegedly used by separatists to take down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which resulted in 298 deaths.
    But Ukrainian military officials and experts note that the supply of weapons goes far beyond one anti-aircraft system.
    Lysenko said the supply of light arms and ammunition being used by the separatists to fight against Ukrainian troops is “enormous.”
    The tanks, armored personnel carriers and anti-aircraft weapons, including Buk and MANPADS, were substantial, he said.
    Ukrainian forces had increased shelling on several border crossings, Lysenko said, and had been able to slow the flow of arms, for a few days at least. He said the slowed flow of weapons had an almost immediate impact on the battlefield.
    But other military officials disagreed with the notion that the Russian weapons resupply had decreased.


    Anton Gerashchenko, when asked Wednesday if the supply lines had been disrupted, pulled out a cellphone showing a steady stream of updates, such as the one noting that around 10 a.m. Ukrainian witnesses saw five new tanks and other equipment crossing the border.


    “We thought perhaps the tragedy of Flight MH17 would cause them to pause the weapons flow, but that has not been the case,” he said.
    Oleksiy Melnyk, co-director for security at the Ukrainian think tank Razumkov Centre, said the on-the-ground reality created by the flow of weapons from Russia is that “the Russian separatists are better armed than the Ukrainian military.”


    He added that Ukraine could not hope to stand toe to toe in a proxy war with Russia, and therefore would have to rely on the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin deciding to stop a policy of aggression in the region.
    As if to highlight the gap between the Russian and Ukrainian militaries, in Ukraine’s parliament, the Rada, on Thursday, legislators were talking about the need to increase military funding, as the $1 billion they’d added to the budget earlier this year to aid in the effort was already almost all gone.


    Member of Parliament Sergiy Kunitsyn noted that “more money is needed or we will run out of ammunition, food, fuel, everything.”
    At the Pentagon, a U.S. defense official said that Russian artillery has been fired over the border for days, beginning roughly around the same time MH17, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down, killing the 283 passengers and 15 crew on board. Such artillery could not have shot down that plane, which was traveling at 33,000 feet when it was struck.


    Why the State Department only announced the Russian escalation into the conflict Thursday was unclear. The announcement, however, was likely to increase international pressure on Russia to cut off its support for the separatists.


    The Pentagon offered no specifics on which Russian forces were launching the artillery, their targets or what they have struck.
    In the past few weeks, U.S. officials said they have seen various weapons traveling along the border, including lighter Soviet-era armored surface-to-surface rocket launchers. The United States believes Russia plans to deliver BM-30 Smerch, a powerful, heavier multiple-launch rocket system, consisting of 12 tubes for 300mm rockets, to separatists across the border.
    U.S. officials estimate there are close to 12,000 Russian troops currently at the border.


    There was no indication from Washington that the attacks were related the resignation Thursday of the government of Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, amid growing optimism among some parts of the government that its military can fend off the pro-Russian insurrection.
    Rather, Pentagon officials believe the Russian strikes are designed to provide cover for separatists against an improving Ukrainian army. Ukraine, keen to not further involve Russia in the conflict, has little regress against such cross-border attacks.


    The news of the strikes comes just a day after Ukraine said two of its Sukhoi SU-25 fighter jets were struck in the Donetsk region. But there was no indication that Russian artillery was involved in those shootdowns. Flying at 6,000 feet, it would be nearly impossible for artillery to strike down SU-25 fighters jets, but U.S. officials could not rule out the Russian artillery.


    Separatists in Ukraine said they used MANPADs _ shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles _ to bring down those aircraft.
    Schofield reported from Kiev, Youssef from Washington.
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    U.S. officials say Russia is firing into Ukraine and supplying pro-Russian rebels with rockets

    The announcement on Thursday was the first time U.S. officials have accused Russia of firing artillery rounds at Ukraine. At a State Department briefing, a spokeswoman said they have evidence that Russia plans to deliver more rocket launchers to the separatists. But Russia brushed off the accusations.

    BY Joel Siegel
    NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
    Thursday, July 24, 2014, 10:45 PM


    Vadim Ghirda/AP Pro-Russian rebels ride a tank flying a Russian flag in eastern Ukraine, not far from the scene of the Malaysia Flight MH17 crash.

    U.S. officials on Thursday for the first time accused Russia of firing artillery rounds from its territory at Ukraine positions across the border.


    The assertion represents a more confrontational tone by the Obama administration against the Kremlin.


    It also means that Russia is now directly engaged with the Ukrainian military — a dramatic escalation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support of pro-Russian separatists, edging the two countries closer to war.



    At a State Department briefing, spokeswoman Marie Harf said unspecified “intelligence” pointed to more direct Russian involvement in the crisis.


    “We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine, and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions,” she said.


    The accusations come amid conflicting claims over the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet over eastern Ukraine last week.


    The U.S. has repeatedly accused Russia of stoking the Ukraine rebellion and has said it believes separatists shot down the Malaysian plane with a surface-to-air missile provided by Russia.


    Senior U.S. intelligence officials told the Associated Press on Thursday that intercepts, satellite photos and social media postings by separatists, some of which have been authenticated by U.S. experts, show that the Russian-backed separatists are to blame.


    Russia on Thursday brushed off the accusations.


    Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said in a video statement that if the U.S. officials indeed had proof the plane was shot down by a missile launched from the rebel-held territory, “how come they have not been made public?”


    The pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government troops have been fighting for more than three months, leaving at least 400 dead and displacing tens of thousands.
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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    Ukraine reports overnight rebel attacks on border


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    Pro-Russian fighters ride a airborne self-propelled artillery gun Nona in downtown Donetsk, eastern Ukraine Thursday, July 24, 2014. While the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 last week riveted international attention on the Ukraine conflict, locals have been struggling for months with spiraling violence. The Ukrainian military, buoyed after the fall of rebel stronghold Slovyansk this month, is now trying to encircle Donetsk and cut off any supply routes from Russia.AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky



    By NATALIYA VASILYEVA




    The Associated Press

    July 25, 2014




    MOSCOW — The Ukrainian army on Friday claimed that soldiers came under artillery fire from the Russian side of the border overnight and were attacked by rebels in several other places in the restive east.


    Ukrainian forces are trying to close in on the rebels, cutting them off from the border with Russia which Kiev believes is the source of arms and reinforcement. Moscow has vehemently denied a role in the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and government troops which has left more than 400 people dead and displaced tens of thousands.



    In a statement on Friday, the headquarters of the government's military operation in the east listed at least seven locations where rebels attacked Ukrainian troops. They also claimed that attacks on two locations including a border crossing were supported by artillery fire from Russia.


    Late on Thursday, Ukrainian troops entered the town of Lysychansk, which has been in rebel hands for several months, the military press office said. Rebels on Friday morning admitted in comments carried by Interfax that they had to flee the town which is 70 kilometers (45 miles) north-west of the regional capital Luhansk.


    International observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe on Friday were traveling to inspect the wreckage of the downed Malaysia Airlines plane and to search for more bodies. Human remains are still being found at the crash site more than a week after the plane went down.


    All 298 people aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 — most of them Dutch citizens — were killed when the plane was shot down on July 17. U.S. officials say the Boeing 777 was probably downed by a missile fired by pro-Russian rebels, likely by accident.
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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    Did the U.S. Miss Signs Portending Airliner Shoot-down?

    By Alexis Simendinger - July 24, 2014
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    The violence in eastern Ukraine with Russia that took down a civilian airliner was not “contained,” President Obama said last week.
    As the United States continues to make its case that Russia is implicated in the deaths of 298 air passengers because of its support for fighters operating in the rebel-held sector of Ukraine, officials have publicly discussed risks known to the administration well before the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.
    While the U.S. has not identified who destroyed the passenger jet, there remain questions about what the administration understood to be happening in the violent region where separatists operated. What risks had been assessed leading up to the tragedy? In other words, did the government connect all the dots?
    Senior administration officials declined to discuss whether intelligence information offered the president an early warning system of his own that suggested deadly missiles and passenger aircraft could collide over Ukraine.
    “We don’t talk about anything in the PDB,” said a senior administration official said, when asked whether Obama had been advised before the crash about worrisome activities in Ukraine, as part of his classified intelligence summary known as the President’s Daily Brief.
    After 68 years of producing a daily, all-source intelligence summary in printed form, the Central Intelligence Agency, working through the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, fulfilled Obama’s request to present the data electronically to him and his national security advisers. The president has received U.S. intelligence assessments in tablet format since Feb. 16.
    Obama understood before the Malaysian Airlines flight plummeted from 33,000 feet that there were mounting dangers, and those factors remain under international discussion as the crash is investigated, administration officials said. Based on evidence and intelligence described in the week since the crash, no official has suggested the tragedy could have been averted, although Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine for creating a violent climate in which civilians perished.
    It remains unclear exactly how the United States, the government in Kiev and the international intelligence community shared assessments before the crash, gauging the dangers posed by sophisticated missile launchers they knew that both pro-Russia separatists and Ukraine defense forces possessed.
    First, the president knew that aircraft in eastern Ukraine had been targeted more than a dozen times already, although the targets were military planes flying at lower altitudes. The shoot-downs were not a mystery. “Pro-Russian separatist fighters have demonstrated proficiency with surface-to-air missile systems and have downed more than a dozen aircraft over the past few months, including two large transport aircraft,” the U.S. Embassy in Kiev said in a July 19 statement.
    Obama, in White House remarks Friday blaming Russia and Putin, said “this is not the first time a plane has been shot down in eastern Ukraine. Over the last several weeks, Russian-backed separatists have shot down a Ukrainian transport plane and a Ukrainian helicopter, and they claimed responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian fighter jet. Moreover, we know that these separatists have received a steady flow of support from Russia. This includes arms and training. It includes heavy weapons, and it includes anti-aircraft weapons.”
    Second, a senior administration official said Obama was advised prior to the crash that some commercial airlines, as early as last spring, ceased flying routes over eastern Ukraine, to protect the safety of passengers and crews. Korean Air, Asiana, Qantas and China airlines were among the carriers that chose new routes in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
    After Flight 17 broke apart, Eurocontrol, the European flight safety organization, said the plane was at 33,000 feet when it disappeared from radar, just 1,000 feet above restricted air space. Ukrainian authorities had previously closed the same flight route from 32,000 feet down to the ground, leaving open the higher flight path.
    U.S. intelligence officials who briefed reporters Tuesday at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence refused to answer questions about any warnings or advisories the U.S. government may have shared with peer civil aviation organizations worldwide prior to the Malaysian Airlines incident. The Federal Aviation Administration has not commented.
    White House National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes, appearing on MSNBC Tuesday, said the FAA is responsible for sharing warnings that affect the traveling public, as it did this week when it grounded U.S. carriers from flying into Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv after a Hamas rocket landed approximately a mile away.
    Referring to the FAA, he said the administration shared aviation risk evaluations in Ukraine -- before the crash -- but he did not elaborate.
    “We provided warnings, for instance, in Ukraine about the hostilities there in the last several weeks,” Rhodes said.
    Third, the intelligence community advised the president before the Ukraine tragedy that Russian-supplied vehicles and weaponry, including missiles, were known to be operating in Ukraine. The president, Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, backed by the intelligence community, said in the last week that a sophisticated SA-11 surface-to-air missile, which the administration believes was deployed by Russian-backed separatists, detonated beneath the Malaysian Airlines jet, killing all aboard. Officials have said they surmised from available data that the separatists made a mistake, perhaps believing their target was a transport plane.
    The administration has not made public any hard evidence that links the downed plane directly to Russia. The administration has conceded that Ukraine, too, possessed the same type of SA-11 missile system, but has asserted that Ukraine did not use the system in the week before the explosion.
    In presenting a public case against Moscow and to describe Russia’s influence over the separatists, officials described information they collected prior to plane crash, threads now woven into an indictment against Russia.
    In March, Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk appealed to Obama during an Oval Office visit for U.S. security and intelligence assistance to bolster his country’s defenses. In April, the administration declined to share U.S. intelligence with Ukraine as Russia amassed forces along its border, according to U.S. lawmakers. And by June, as the United States and NATO publicly acknowledged that Russia supplied anti-aircraft weapons to separatists inside Ukraine, the Kiev government again appealed to the United States for assistance. At the time, the Pentagon would not confirm that Ukraine sought U.S. help to electronically jam the separatists’ superior anti-aircraft systems, as was reported.
    Gen. Philip Breedlove, head of the U.S. European Command, confirmed last month that Russian forces were supplying anti-aircraft weapons and training to the separatists, but he said the U.S. government was not ready to link the downing of Ukrainian aircraft this spring and summer to the weaponry supplied by Russia, which made its way to eastern Ukraine.
    “We need to allow the facts to be reported out,” Breedlove told reporters at the Pentagon. “We have not tied the string together yet,” he said.
    The deaths of 298 people on Thursday appeared to tighten that tentative string.
    “We have been able to get [intelligence] information out more quickly in part because we have more resources on this, but in part because there are not a lot of competing theories,” Rhodes told reporters at a briefing Monday. “There’s no alternative theory that makes any sense to us.”
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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    Krauthammer: Obama outrageously waits for history to handle Putin

    By Charles Krauthammer
    Washington Post Writers GroupJuly 24, 2014 Updated 5 hours ago



    WASHINGTON — The president’s demeanor is worrying a lot of people. From the immigration crisis on the Mexican border to the Islamic State rising in Mesopotamia, Barack Obama seems totally detached. When he does interrupt his endless rounds of golf, fundraising and photo ops, it’s for some affectless, mechanical, almost forced public statement.


    Regarding Ukraine, his detachment – the rote, impassive voice – borders on dissociation. His U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power, delivers an impassioned denunciation of Russia. Obama cautions that we not “get out ahead of the facts,” as if the facts of this case – Vladimir Putin’s proxies shooting down a civilian airliner – are in doubt.


    The preferred explanation for the president’s detachment is psychological. He’s checked out. Given up. Let down and disappointed by the world, he is in withdrawal.


    Perhaps. But I’d propose an alternate theory that gives him more credit: Obama’s passivity stems from an idea. When Obama says Putin has placed himself on the wrong side of history in Ukraine, he actually believes it. He disdains realpolitik because he believes that, in the end, such primitive 19th century notions as conquest are self-defeating. History sees to their defeat.


    “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” is one of Obama’s favorite sayings. Ultimately, injustice and aggression don’t pay. The Soviets saw their 20th century empire dissolve. More proximally, U.S. gains in Iraq and Afghanistan were, in time, liquidated. Ozymandias lies forever buried and forgotten in desert sands.


    Remember when, at the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, Obama tried to construct for Putin “an offramp” from Crimea? Absurd as this idea was, I think Obama was sincere. He actually imagined that he’d be saving Putin from himself, that Crimea could only redound against Russia in the long run.


    If you really believe this, then there is no need for forceful, potentially risky U.S. counteractions. Which explains everything since: Obama’s pinprick sanctions; his failure to rally a craven Europe; his refusal to supply Ukraine with the weapons it has been begging for.

    The shooting down of a civilian airliner seemed to validate Obama’s passivity. “Violence and conflict inevitably lead to unforeseen consequences,” explained Obama. See. You play with fire, it will blow up in your face. Just as I warned. Now world opinion will turn against Putin.


    To which I say: So what? World opinion, by itself, is useless: malleable, ephemeral and, unless mobilized by leadership, powerless. History doesn’t act autonomously. It needs agency.


    Germany’s Angela Merkel still doesn’t want to jeopardize trade with Russia. France’s Francois Hollande will proceed with delivery of a Mistral-class attack-helicopter carrier to Russia. And Obama speaks of future “costs” if Russia persists – a broken record since Crimea, carrying zero credibility.


    Or did Obama think Putin would be shamed into regret and restraint by the blood of 298 innocents? On the contrary. Putin’s response has been brazen defiance: denying everything and unleashing a massive campaign of lies, fabrications and conspiracy theories blaming Ukraine and the U.S.


    Putin doesn’t give a damn about world opinion. He cares about domestic opinion, which has soared to more than 80 percent approval since Crimea. If anything, he’s been emboldened. On Wednesday, his proxies shot down two more jets – a finger to the world and a declaration that his campaign continues.


    A real U.S. president would give Kiev the weapons it needs, impose devastating sectoral sanctions on Moscow, reinstate our Central European missile-defense system and make a Reaganesque speech explaining why.


    Obama has done none of these things. Why should he? He’s on the right side of history.


    Of course, in the long run nothing lasts. But history is lived in the here and now. The Soviets had only 70 years, Hitler a mere 12. Yet it was enough to murder millions and rain ruin on entire continents. Bashar al-Assad, too, will one day go. But not before having killed at least 100,000 people.


    All domination must end. But after how much devastation? And if you leave it to the forces of history to repel aggression and redeem injustice, what’s the point of politics, of leadership, in the first place?


    The world is aflame and our leader is on the 14th green. The arc of history may indeed bend toward justice, Mr. President. But, as you say, the arc is long. The job of a leader is to shorten it, to intervene on behalf of “the fierce urgency of now.” Otherwise, why do we need a president? And why did you seek to become ours?
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    Charles Krauthammer: The vacant presidency

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    7 hours ago • Charles Krauthammer • letters@charleskrauthammer.com
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    The president’s demeanor is worrying a lot of people. From the immigration crisis on the Mexican border to the Islamic State rising in Mesopotamia, Barack Obama seems totally detached. When he does interrupt his endless rounds of golf, fundraising and photo ops, it’s for some affectless, mechanical, almost forced public statement.


    Regarding Ukraine, his detachment — the rote, impassive voice — borders on dissociation. His U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power, delivers an impassioned denunciation of Russia. Obama cautions that we not “get out ahead of the facts,” as if the facts of this case — Vladimir Putin’s proxies shooting down a civilian airliner — are in doubt.


    The preferred explanation for the president’s detachment is psychological. He’s checked out. Given up. Let down and disappointed by the world, he is in withdrawal.
    Perhaps. But I’d propose an alternate theory that gives him more credit: Obama’s passivity stems from an idea. When Obama says Putin has placed himself on the wrong side of history in Ukraine, he actually believes it. He disdains realpolitik because he believes that, in the end, such primitive 19th-century notions as conquest are self-defeating. History sees to their defeat.


    “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” is one of Obama’s favorite sayings. Ultimately, injustice and aggression don’t pay. The Soviets saw their 20th-century empire dissolve. More proximally, U.S. gains in Iraq and Afghanistan were, in time, liquidated. Ozymandias lies forever buried and forgotten in desert sands.
    Remember when, at the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, Obama tried to construct for Putin “an offramp” from Crimea? Absurd as this idea was, I think Obama was sincere. He actually imagined that he’d be saving Putin from himself, that Crimea could only redound against Russia in the long run.


    If you really believe this, then there is no need for forceful, potentially risky U.S. counteractions. Which explains everything since: Obama’s pinprick sanctions; his failure to rally a craven Europe; his refusal to supply Ukraine with the weapons it has been begging for.


    The shooting down of a civilian airliner seemed to validate Obama’s passivity. “Violence and conflict inevitably lead to unforeseen consequences,” explained Obama. See. You play with fire, it will blow up in your face. Just as I warned. Now world opinion will turn against Putin.


    To which I say: So what? World opinion, by itself, is useless: malleable, ephemeral and, unless mobilized by leadership, powerless. History doesn’t act autonomously. It needs agency.


    Germany’s Angela Merkel still doesn’t want to jeopardize trade with Russia. France’s Francois Hollande will proceed with delivery of a Mistral-class attack-helicopter carrier to Russia. And Obama speaks of future “costs” if Russia persists — a broken record since Crimea, carrying zero credibility.


    Or did Obama think Putin would be shamed into regret and restraint by the blood of 298 innocents? On the contrary. Putin’s response has been brazen defiance: denying everything and unleashing a massive campaign of lies, fabrications and conspiracy theories blaming Ukraine and the U.S.


    Putin doesn’t give a damn about world opinion. He cares about domestic opinion, which has soared to more than 80 percent approval since Crimea. If anything, he’s been emboldened. On Wednesday, his proxies shot down two more jets — a finger to the world and a declaration that his campaign continues.


    A real U.S. president would give Kiev the weapons it needs, impose devastating sectoral sanctions on Moscow, reinstate our Central European missile-defense system and make a Reaganesque speech explaining why.


    Obama has done none of these things. Why should he? He’s on the right side of history.


    Of course, in the long run nothing lasts. But history is lived in the here and now. The Soviets had only 70 years, Hitler a mere 12. Yet it was enough to murder millions and rain ruin on entire continents. Bashar Assad, too, will one day go. But not before having killed at least 100,000 people.


    All domination must end. But after how much devastation? And if you leave it to the forces of history to repel aggression and redeem injustice, what’s the point of politics, of leadership, in the first place?


    The world is aflame and our leader is on the 14th green. The arc of history may indeed bend toward justice, Mr. President. But, as you say, the arc is long. The job of a leader is to shorten it, to intervene on behalf of “the fierce urgency of now.” Otherwise, why do we need a president? And why did you seek to become ours?
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    Obama administration: Russia firing artillery at Ukraine military targets

    FoxNews.com











    A pro-Russian fighter stands guard next to bodies near a destroyed Ukrainian tank in the northern outskirts of the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine Tuesday, July 22, 2014.AP


    Obama administration officials said Thursday that Russia is firing artillery from its own territory into Ukraine to hit Ukrainian military sites, pointing to escalating Russian involvement in the deadly conflict.


    "This clearly is a military escalation," Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said, adding there is no question that Russian military -- as opposed to Russia-backed separatists -- are firing the shots.


    State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf first made the accusation during a press briefing earlier Thursday. She also claimed Moscow is boosting its military shipments to pro-Russian separatists.


    "We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to separatist forces in Ukraine and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russian to attack Ukrainian military positions," Harf told reporters.


    She said the evidence derived from "human intelligence information" but declined to elaborate, saying it would compromise sources and methods of intelligence collection.
    The Pentagon, though, confirmed her account, and said Russia has been firing artillery for several days now.


    The allegations come amid an increasingly bitter war of words between Washington and Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine and conflicting claims over the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet over eastern Ukraine last week.


    The U.S. repeatedly has accused Russia of stoking the Ukraine rebellion and has said it believes separatists shot down the Malaysian plane, killing nearly 300 people, with a Russian provided surface-to-air missile.


    Harf said Wednesday the ultimate responsibility for the downing of the plane rests with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.


    Former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden told Megyn Kelly Thursday night on "The Kelly File" that in light of recent developments, "it's not just about Ukraine now, it's about what Europe is going to look like for the next era."


    Meanwhile, additional military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.


    On Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution proposed by Australia demanding that rebels cooperate with an independent investigation and allow all remaining bodies to be recovered.
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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    Steve Harrigan reporting this morning that several times the Ukrainians have charged Russia was firing artillery for some time now.

    Today, amateur video was released coming from a small Russian border town showing artillery being fired in the direction of Ukraine. The video lasted 30-40 seconds and showed dozens of rockets of some sort (was hard to make out) being fired from large equipment. The timing was dusk, and now the US it stating emphatically that this is absolutely Russian military equipment being manned by Russian military personnel.

    Human intelligence sources are providing the data - and the news media, US government and others will say no more about how they know what is happening.

    (Russians will kill anyone they find spying and will kill them with little regard to who might be involved).
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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    EU Lines Up Sector-Wide Economic Sanctions on Russia

    Officials Put Off Discussion About Targeting President Vladimir Putin's Inner Circle






    By Laurence Norman And
    Matthew Dalton



    July 25, 2014 8:52 a.m. ET


    BRUSSELS—European officials Friday put off discussion about imposing sanctions on members of President Vladimir Putin's inner circle but pressed ahead with plans to deliver sector-wide economic sanctions on Russia next week, officials said.


    Ambassadors from the European Union's member states met for the second consecutive day on Friday to discuss ratcheting up economic pressure on Moscow because of what the West says is Russia's support for militants in eastern Ukraine.




    The expected move to hit the Russian economy with tougher measures follows the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines 3786.KU -2.22% jet over eastern Ukraine allegedly by Russia-backed separatists, killing more than 200 EU citizens.


    The EU on Thursday added 18 entities to its sanctions list, including the separatist groups People's Republic of Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republic and some half a dozen Crimea-based companies that benefited from the Russian annexation of the region, diplomats said.


    Also targeted were 15 individuals, including senior officials from the Federal Security Service, or FSB. The head of the FSB is one of the people added to the sanctions list, EU diplomats said.


    EU officials said the names of those people and companies will be published Friday some time after 1600 GMT in the bloc's official journal, a move that will mean the travel ban and asset freeze will take immediate effect.


    The EU also agreed Thursday a move allowing the bloc to hit people who are actively supporting Russia's decision makers on Ukraine, including Moscow's annexation of Crimea in March. That opens the way for the EU to place sanctions on Russian oligarchs close to the Kremlin and to more of Mr. Putin's senior advisers and aides.




    People familiar with the discussions said the ambassadors wanted to focus Friday morning's discussions on how to design broader economic sanctions on Russia and wanted to wait until Monday or Tuesday before opening a fresh debate over who to target among Mr. Putin's inner circle.


    EU ambassadors will reconvene on Monday to continue discussions. They will also meet Tuesday.


    Friday afternoon, a European Commission spokesman, Jonathan Todd, said the EU's executive "will now come forward with the legislative proposals very swiftly." Officials said the detailed legal text of broader sanctions could reach capitals later Friday, allowing the EU's 28 governments to consider the details over the weekend.


    One senior official involved in Friday's discussion said while there no sense of drawing back from adopting sector-wide sanctions next week, there was much work ahead to agree on the exact nature of the sanctions moves.


    "We are still on track but discussions could become more tricky when we discuss the legislative text," the person said.


    The proposals for economic sanctions, described in a document distributed to member states and seen by The Wall Street Journal, include investment restrictions and a prohibition on listing Russian financial instruments on European markets or exchanges—measures that could hit Sberbank, SBER.MZ -1.68% Russia's largest bank and one of Europe's biggest financial institutions.


    The measures also include trade restrictions on arms, on technology used by the Russian military and on goods used for unconventional oil exploration.


    Russian financial institutions that are more than 50% owned by the Russian government would also be subject to the restrictions, the document says. Those financial institutions raised €7.5 billion in bonds from EU capital markets in 2013, 47% of all the bonds they issued, the document says. EU citizens would be forbidden from buying their equity or debt with a maturity longer than 90 days.
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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    Trapped in His Own Labyrinth: Putin, Ukraine, and MH17

    By Joshua Yaffa


    Photo illustration by 731; Photographs by Mikhail Metzel/AP Photo (missiles); Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters (Putin)

    Vladimir Putin’s shadow war is no longer. For months, anti-Kiev militants—a collection of disaffected ethnic Russians from eastern Ukraine, nationalist volunteers from Russia, and tourist mercenaries from across the former Soviet Union—have fought a grinding battle with the Ukrainian state. Their grievances and fears were local and often genuine, but the money, supplies, propaganda, and diplomatic cover were Russian. The war was an extension of the postmodern and cynical world of Putin-era politics—in which the only thing that matters is the accumulation and preservation of power. It was a fight as murky as it was grim; and among civilians trapped in besieged cities between the two ragtag and poorly trained military forces, casualties piled up.
    The response in Washington and European capitals was outrage without action—concern about the dangers of Putin’s proxy war but no ideas or will to stop it. With the shooting down on July 17 of Malaysia Airlines (MAS:MK) Flight 17, a Boeing 777 headed from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, the shadow war was brought into the light. If Putin chooses, the disaster of MH17 could provide a way out of the dangerous, increasingly counterproductive conflict he’s been intent on stoking. But doing so would cut against his instincts.
    The details of how Flight 17 exploded and crashed into a field, killing 298 passengers, may never be fully clear. What evidence is available suggests a sophisticated anti-aircraft missile system—an SA-11 Buk, or “beech”—was fired from rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, just a few miles from the Russian border. Militia commanders on the ground, perhaps with training from Russian military and intelligence operatives, appear to have thought they were shooting at a Ukrainian An-26 military transport plane.
    Story: At MH17 Crash Site, More Signs of Tampering
    From the beginning, separatist forces have been in charge of the crash scene, which quickly devolved into a foul and disorganized mess—quite likely on purpose, to spoil any chance of a proper investigation and to remove or destroy incriminating evidence. If the Russian-backed rebels can be declared conclusively guilty of anything—and they may yet be found culpable for much more—it is of being disrespectful to the victims, allowing their bodies to rot in the midsummer heat. (It was six days before the remains arrived in Holland.) Valuable sources of information have disappeared. The handover of the plane’s flight-data recorders to the Malaysian authorities who traveled to Donetsk was an odd, theatrical spectacle, all the more so because the rebels claimed the day before that they didn’t possess them at all.
    That Putin is doing little to facilitate a serious investigation by wielding his influence over the rebels is angering the Obama administration, not to mention Europeans and their leaders. In a late-night address, after hours on the phone with David Cameron, François Hollande, and Angela Merkel, Putin—who looked tired and on edge—only called vaguely for an investigation into the crash, while warning against countries using the crisis for “mercenary political goals.” He’s hoping the world’s attention moves on. Delaying and deflecting has worked for Putin before, but further inaction will test U.S. and European patience more than his easier-to-mask interventions in Ukraine to date. That would spur a new round of sanctions that could push his struggling economy into recession. More conclusive proof that the separatists, in any way aided by Russia, were behind the attack could poison Russia’s relations with the West to a level of tension unprecedented in the post-Soviet era.
    For Putin, this means the status quo is no longer feasible—he will either have to abandon his proxy war in Ukraine and give up on the rebel forces he’s used to back the Kremlin’s policy goals, or he will push even harder against the West, steeling himself and his country for a long-term standoff that could result in Russia becoming isolated and weakened. Either scenario will be a great test of a leader whose 14-year tenure has been marked by craftiness and an ability to play events to his advantage. With the downing of MH17, Putin risks being caught up in events beyond his control, a nimble tactician with no moves left to play.
    Story: Russia's Megarich Are Losing Billions in Putin's War
    He’s been engaged in a dangerous high-stakes gamble for months. It began in late February, when he interpreted the fall of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a leader he personally loathed but knew he could always buy off, as the culmination of a Western-organized coup. His first reaction, visceral and emotional, was to retake Crimea—providing a measure of historical revenge that salved the injury of the breakup of the Soviet empire. Beyond that, Putin wanted to secure a post-Yanukovych order for Ukraine that would pose no threat to Russia or his rule.
    Story: Sanctions Could Push Russia Into Recession
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: World War Three Thread....

    If the West doesn’t do more for Ukraine now, it might soon be too late









    A Pro-Russian activist stands near the burnt Ukrainian army tank on the outskirts of Donetsk. (Igor Kovalenko/EPA)
    By Editorial Board July 24 at 5:20 PM



    VLADIMIR PUTIN has responded to the international outrage over the destruction of a Malaysian airliner by his proxies in eastern Ukraine by escalating his aggression.

    According to U.S. officials, tanks, artillery and other heavy weapons have continued to cross from Russia to Ukraine since the passenger jet was shot down. On Wednesday, two more Ukrainian military jets were hit by anti-aircraft missiles, which Ukrainian officials said had been fired from Russia. The State Department also said Thursday that Russian artillery was firing at Ukrainian positions from across the border.


    The Russian president is clearly not impressed by Western responses to the killing of 298 innocent people and the subsequent attempt by his government and its proxies to deny and cover up the crime. And why should he be? After making a statement Monday that contained no tangible response and only a vague threat that “the costs for Russia’s behavior” will increase, President Obama departed for three days of fundraising on the West Coast. The message to Mr. Putin — not to mention the Israelis, Palestinians and Iraqis fighting their own wars — was that the president was not engaged enough by the crises to set aside the purely political activity of collecting checks from donors.


    In Brussels, European Union officials met Thursday to discuss potential sanctions against Russia, including new measures against the banking, energy and arms industries. But no decisions will be made before next week, and even then Moscow will likely be given a new deadline for meeting a demand that it stop supplying the Ukrainian rebels. Previous deadlines to cease weapons deliveries have passed with no significant action.


    While the West temporizes, a de facto Russian army is rapidly assembling in occupied portions of eastern Ukraine. A report in the Financial Times, sourced to U.S. intelligence officials, says it includes dozens of T-64 battle tanks, Grad rocket launchers, self-propelled guns, infantry combat vehicles with automatic cannons and armored personnel carriers, in addition to anti-aircraft systems like the one that shot down the Malaysian plane. This force is commanded by Russian citizens who infiltrated Ukraine from Moscow, including a Russian secret police colonel, and made up in large part of fighters from Russia.


    Incredibly, the European Union’s position — tacitly supported by Mr. Obama — is that the Ukrainian government should stop attempting to expel the invaders from its territory and instead negotiate with them about the political future of Ukraine. Fortunately, newly elected President Petro Poroshenko has not capitulated to this appeasement strategy. However, his appeals for military aid from the United States and NATO, or at least more substantial sanctions, have so far been turned aside by Mr. Obama and the Europeans.


    Frustration with Mr. Obama’s weakness now extends to the top ranks of the Democratic Party. A letter released Tuesday by three Senate committee chairs — Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Carl Levin (Mich.) and Robert Menendez (N.J.) — called on Mr. Obama to “impose immediate broad sanctions” against Russia’s defense sector, as well as broader measures against energy and financial industries, and to explore designating the rebels’ political structure as a foreign terrorist organization. While cooperation with Europe is desirable, the senators said, “the United States must not limit its own national security strategy when swift action will help fulfill our strategic objectives.”


    Mr. Obama has already missed the opportunity for swift action to stop Mr. Putin’s escalation. If he does not act soon, it may be too late to save Ukraine.
    Libertatem Prius!


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