Minggu, 15 Februari 2015

Wow India Borong Uranium Nuklir Australia...??....Bahas Pakta Energi Nuklir ...India-Jepang..??? >>


Wow India Borong Uranium Nuklir Australia

Kamis, 04 September 2014, 12:01 WIB
Science Photo Library
Konsentrat Uranium (ilustrasi)
Konsentrat Uranium (ilustrasi)
REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, MUMBAI --http://www.republika.co.id/berita/internasional/global/14/09/04/nbd1za-wow-india-borong-uranium-nuklir-australia

Perdana Menteri Australia Tony Abbott tiba di India, Kamis untuk menandatangani kesepakatan yang sudah lama dinantikan, menjual uranium bagi tuan rumah yang haus energi serta mempererat hubungan.

Abbott diperkirakan akan bertemu dengan timpalannya, PM Narendra Modi dan para pejabat tinggi dalam lawatan dua setengah hari yang juga diharapkan untuk memacu perdagangan.

"Kami mengharapkan hasil yang bermakna dari lawatan ini untuk mempererat persahabatan lebih lanjut," kata Sanjay Bhattacharya, sekretaris bersama Kementerian Luar Negeri India pada malam menjelang kedatangan Abbott.

"Bagi kami, Australia adalah pemasok bahan baku yang utama khususnya energi yang diperlukan bagi pembangunan."

India dan Australia mulai melakukan perundingan penjualan uranium pada 2012 setelah Canberra membatalkan larangan ekspor bijih bernilai tinggi itu ke Delhi yang memerlukannya untuk memenuhi ambisi program nuklirnya.

Australia sebagai negara terbesar ketiga penghasil uranium sebelum ini melarang penjualan logam tersebut karena India tidak menandatangani perjanjian non-perebakan nuklir.

Menteri Perdagangan Australia Andrew Robb yang menyertai lawatan Abbott mengatakan bahwa Canberra kini puas dengan pernyataan India yang memberikan jaminan kepada Australia bahwa ekspor uranium itu hanya akan digunakan untuk kepentingan damai.

"Kami sudah puas karena sudah melakukan tahap-tahap keamanan yang diperlukan," kata Robb pekan ini.

Abbott diharapkan menandatangani kesepakatan saat berada di Delhi dan bertemu Modi, tokoh konservatif yang naik ke tampuk kekuasaan pada Mei serta berjanji untuk membuka diri bagi investasi asing di negara dengan ekonomi terbesar ketiga di Asia itu.

Abbott disertai 30 pengusaha besar negaranya tiba di Mumbai pada Kamis pagi, menurut kantor berita India, PTI, serta akan melakukan pertemuan dengan para direktur di kota tersebut serta berceramah di perguruan tinggi.

Sebelum menuju Delhi, perdana menteri Australia itu juga akan bertemu dengan bintang kriket India, Adam Gilchrist dan Brett Lee, sehubungan negeri Kanguru itu akan menjadi tuan rumah kejuaraan dunia Kriket tahun depan.

Pengamat dan mantan diplomat India Neelam Deo mengatakan, seluruh perhatian akan terarah pada perjanjian nuklir, yang akan mendorong ekspor dan mempererat hubungan strategis
.

India-Jepang Bahas Pakta Energi Nuklir

Selasa, 02 September 2014, 01:51 WIB
Reuters/Ahmad Masood 
Narendra Modi (biru)
Narendra Modi (biru)
REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, TOKYO-- Perdana Menteri India Narendra Modi bertemu dengan Perdana Menteri Jepang Shinzo Abe. Keduanya membahas kerjasama hubungan ekonomi dan keamanan.

BBC News melaporkan, para pemimpin cenderung untuk mempercepat pembicaraan tentang pakta energi nuklir dan menandatangani perjanjian. Ini merupakan sesuatu yang jarang terjadi.

Ini merupakan kunjungan asing pertama Modi, sejak ia memenangkan pemilihan Mei lalu. Pertemuan ini dilihat sebagai upaya oleh kedua negara demokrasi, untuk menyeimbangkan meningkatnya pengaruh Cina di seluruh Asia.

Modi tiba di Jepang pada Sabtu (30/8). Ia mengunjungi bekas kekaisaran Kyoto, selama akhir pekan.

"Saya yakin kunjungan saya akan menulis bab baru dalam sejarah hubungan antara dua negara demokrasi tertua di Asia. Serta meningkatkan strategi dan kemitraan global untuk tingkat yang lebih tinggi," kata Modi.

Laporan media mengatakan, Abe akan menyampaikan perihal penggandaan investasi dalam pembicaraan Senin (1/9) dengan Modi. Rencananya Jepang akan menggandakan investasi langsung di India dalam lima tahun.



Risk Of Australian Uranium In Indian Nuclear Weapons Spark Worries
By  Reissa Su on February 16 2015 3:29 AM
http://au.ibtimes.com/risk-australian-uranium-indian-nuclear-weapons-spark-worries-1421523

Water tanks storing radiation contaminated water are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture November 12, 2014. REUTERS/Shizuo Kambayashi/Pool
Water tanks storing radiation contaminated water are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture November 12, 2014. Reuters/Shizuo Kambayashi

Australian uranium might end up in the hands of India as part of the country’s nuclear weapons program. Two experts on nuclear power believe the concessions agreed between the two nations could lead to this scenario.


Ronald Walker, a former Australian ambassador and chairman of the international Atomic Energy Agency, said the Abbott government’s deal to sell the country’s uranium to India has “drastically changed” Australia’s longstanding policy on safeguards. He added that the agreement has risked countries playing with nuclear weapons, reports The Guardian.


Risk of nuclear weapons building 


Walker told a hearing of the parliamentary joint standing committee on treaties that deal with India is different from Australia’s 23 other uranium export deals. He believes the uranium agreement between Australia and India will only cause damage to the non-proliferation regime.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has signed a deal to transform Australia into a “long-term” supplier of uranium to India. The agreement was finalised in New Delhi in Sept. 2014 but the committee has yet to approve the terms of the deal.


John Carlson, the head of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office between 1989 and 2010, shares the same view with Walker. He said it would be inexcusable for Australia to push through with the agreement. According to the provisions of the deal, Australian material can be used to make unsafeguarded plutonium that may potentially end up in India’s nuclear weapon program.

However, a senior foreign affairs official defended the deal and argued that India has unique circumstances. He said any deviation from the standard agreement would achieve the same results based on policy but in different ways.


Walker cited specific and new wording on the issue of whether India needed to seek Australia’s permission to enrich the country’s uranium imports. He said the wordings were open to interpretation that Australia has agreed to give prior consent if India decides to proceed with high-level enrichment. Walker warned that highly enriched uranium can be used to create nuclear weapons and generate energy.


Nuclear power for economic development


Walker explained that in Australia’s current agreement with India, Australia does not claim to withhold or withdraw consent if dissatisfied. Both Walker and Carlson support the uranium exports to India to reduce the use of fossil fuels and promote economic development through generation of nuclear power. Carlson had pointed out that the safeguards of the deal with India were more lenient compared to the deals Australia had with China, Japan and the U.S.


Advocates of the deal believe in promoting the use of nuclear energy against climate change. Mr Abbott said in December 2014 that nuclear power should be used to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He added that global warning has made the issue of generating nuclear power worth revisiting.


Japan Times reports that the nuclear disaster in 2011 in Fukushima has influenced public opinion against nuclear power. However, interest has been revived due to calls for global reduction of carbon emissions.


To report problems or leave feedback, contact: r.su@ibtimes.com.au


Uranium-rich Australia puts its nuclear taboo under review


Bloomberg Feb 13, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/13/asia-pacific/uranium-rich-australia-puts-its-nuclear-taboo-under-review/#.VOGPjiwXFJn

While Australia is home to the world’s largest uranium reserves, it has never had a nuclear power plant. Now, amid growing concerns over climate change, the government is weighing whether to reverse its long-held ban.
The state of South Australia, where BHP Billiton Ltd. operates the Olympic Dam mine, is setting up a royal commission to evaluate nuclear power’s impact on both the region’s economy and its carbon emissions. At the same time, the federal government is set to release within months an extensive report on energy that will explore the issue further. 
Those reports will follow Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s comments in December that global warming has made the issue worth revisiting. It is a significant shift in a nation where grass-roots resistance to nuclear energy dates back to the 1960s. Still, any push to introduce nuclear power would face legal and political hurdles from community groups.
“This is going to open the door to a proper informed debate and a comparison of nuclear against other low emissions technologies,” said Tony Irwin, director of SMR Nuclear Technology Pty, a Sydney-based company that is developing technology for small reactors.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 tilted global public opinion against nuclear power, and Japan and Germany shuttered nuclear facilities.
Four years later, interest in nuclear power has been revived, in part because it has no greenhouse gas emissions. Kyushu Electric Power Co. has received approval to restart two reactors in Japan, while China is renewing its atomic ambitions with five reactors the country plans to start building this year.

Coal and gas

While Australia exports uranium to nations including the U.S. and Japan, abundant coal and natural gas have precluded any pressing economic need in the past for nuclear power.
Coal, though, is now under fire because it is the biggest man-made source of greenhouse gases.
Abbott said in December that nuclear power should be considered to help reduce carbon emissions, calling it the “one, absolutely proven way of generating emissions-free baseload power.” Abbott is a member of the Liberal Party, part of the ruling coalition with the National Party.
Envoys from 190 nations — including Australia — will meet at United Nations-sponsored talks in Paris in December to draw up carbon-dioxide emission limits. The current goal calls for policymakers to keep global warming increases to 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
“The world has a CO2 problem,” said Alan Finkel, president of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, a group with more than 800 scientists and engineers. “We need large-scale solutions. There is some awareness that nuclear, if well-managed and well-regulated, can significantly contribute at scale to reducing CO2 emissions.”

Open mind

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill also cited climate change when he announced the creation of a commission to study all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle on Feb. 8.
“I have in the past been opposed to nuclear power — all elements of it,” Weatherill told reporters. “I now have an open mind about these issues.” The involvement of Weatherill, a member of the Labor Party, means both sides of Australia’s political scene are examining this issue.
A domestic nuclear-energy industry would boost demand for uranium, which has surged 36 percent to $38.20 a pound from a low of $28 in May, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Australia has 31 percent of the known reserves, according to the World Nuclear Association, and is the third-biggest producer, behind Kazakhstan and Canada.
Uranium traded at $67.50 a pound before the earthquake and tsunami that crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima nuclear power plant and triggered the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Probably valid

Creating the South Australian commission is “probably valid, given we are a supplier of uranium to the global market,” said Andrea Sutton, chief executive officer of Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. The Darwin, Australia-based company is controlled by Rio Tinto Group, and produces uranium at the Ranger mine in the Northern Territory.
The Australian government believes all energy options, including nuclear, should be part of any discussion about the country’s future energy mix, said Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane.
There are significant hurdles to introducing nuclear power in Australia, said SMR Nuclear’s Irwin, who once operated eight reactors for British Energy Group PLC and also teaches at the Australian National University. Perhaps most significantly, there are federal prohibitions against the technology.

Conservation council

A move toward nuclear energy would also face opposition from environmental and community groups. The Conservation Council of South Australia criticized the South Australia review, saying the state should focus on renewable energy instead.
The nuclear debate in Australia is not new, and it is easy to look at history and come to the conclusion that there’s “very little likelihood that anything is going to happen,” according to the Australian Academy’s Finkel.
“The confluence of big environmental considerations, economic opportunity and new technology coming down the line might invigorate the debate,” he said.

Surrender or die: Ukrainians trapped in Debaltseve pocket as deadline looms

Dispatch: up to 8,000 Ukrainians fighting for their lives in what the Russian-backed separatists are calling the Debaltseve pocket as a midnight ceasefire deadline passes

http://world.einnews.com/article/249947711/ZIZYK7RAThlESq_2










Ukrainian servicemen ride on a tank near Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine
Ukrainian servicemen ride on a tank near Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine Photo: GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS

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It was a little after midday when the volunteer-driven ambulance pulled into the yard of Artemivsk city hospital and disgorged half a dozen wounded soldiers.
Their camouflage stained with blood and their faces caked with the dirt of battle, these were just the latest casualties of a battle that has only grown fiercer since a peace agreement was signed in Minsk this week.
Thirty miles to the south-east, up to 8,000 Ukrainians were fighting for their lives in what the Russian-backed separatists are calling the Debaltseve pocket.
On the roads in between, ferocious artillery duels are unfolding between Ukrainian forces trying to relieve the beleaguered garrison and separatists – possibly supported by regular Russian army units – seeking to tighten the noose.
With the crump of artillery echoing over the horizon just hours to go before a ceasefire came into force at midnight, neither soldiers nor civilians here had much faith in the diplomatic agreements struck in Minsk. “You can’t make deals with Russians. It’s that simple,” said a Ukrainian soldier accompanying comrades to the hospital. “There’s not going to be any peace because Putin doesn’t want it.”
Russian officials still deny having troops on the ground in eastern Ukraine. But the encirclement of Debaltseve and the intensification of the battle immediately after President Vladimir Putin signed the peace agreement in Minsk has many people convinced that it is a Russian-led operation.
Like many Ukrainian soldiers, the 39-year-old artilleryman, who gave his name only as Djin, said he had no doubts that professional Russian forces were in the field in the area around Debaltseve. “Ok, I haven’t seen them, but I’ve seen their professionalism. You see how they work their mortars, it’s one ranging shot then straight away, one two three four five,” he said.

The seeds of this battle were sown in August, when a two-pronged Ukrainian offensive drove wedges deep into rebel lines in an effort to surround the separatist stronghold of Donetsk.
A massive Russian intervention halted and then reversed that advance, forcing Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, to sue for a peace deal signed in Minsk on September 5.
The resulting ceasefire left Debaltseve at the tip of a Ukrainian salient jutting deep into separatist territory – and cutting the main road between the rebels’ most important strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk. In January, the separatists launched a major offensive to retake the town, provoking panicked efforts to broker and end to the fighting.
It was one of the most hotly contested points at the Minsk talks on Wednesday night, with Mr Poroshenko reportedly spending a great deal of time arguing with Mr Putin over whether or not the town was surrounded.


For some, the battle is yet more confirmation of Russian deceit. “In Minsk, Putin said there was a pocket. There was no pocket. So he gave the order to create one,” said a civilian volunteer who delivers supplies to Ukrainian troops.
But some say the situation has been much more difficult for much longer than Kiev officially wants to admit. On Friday, a prominent Ukrainian commander, Semen Semenchenko, criticised official military spokesmen for pretending that the road was still open, saying his men had been forced to withdraw from a key hamlet. And the wounded in Artemivsk hospital had come from positions outside the pocket. “No one gets out of Debaltseve,” said one soldier who declined to give his name. “It has been closed for five or six days.”
“You can carry on if you want to die,” a Ukrainian soldier at a checkpoint on the road from Artemivsk to Debaltseve warned reporters.
Vyacheslav Abroskin, the Kiev-loyalist regional police chief, wrote on Facebook: “The rebels are destroying the town of Debaltseve. There are non-stop artillery bombardments of residential areas and buildings. The town is in flames.”
Natalia Karabuta, head of Debaltseve’s health service, said shortly after fleeing the town that people were stranded by the bombardments.
“The shelling doesn’t stop, the longest pause is for 30 minutes,” she said. “People are hiding from the mortar fire in residential areas in the basements of the hospitals.
“The windows have been blown out but the building is still whole. There are only a few doctors and nurses left in the town but they can only provide the most rudimentary first aid.”
The frost-covered road south-east of the Artemivsk, usually a bustling federal highway, is deserted.
Now, only the occasional Ukrainian army vehicle, driving at high speed to escape shelling, disturbs what would in other circumstance be a tranquil winter scene.

 
The US ambassador to Ukraine released satellite images apparently showing Russian heavy artillery near Debaltseve

Exactly what is going on down the road is almost impossible to tell.

With few, if any, Ukrainian troops making it in or out of Debaltseve, soldiers and civilians there are left only with rumours and the near-constant artillery fire to tell them what is still going on.
For the doctors at the hospital, the proximity of the battle means overload.

“All the other hospitals have been shelled or closed. We’re the first and the last, unfortunately,” said a surgeon in hospital scrubs as he filled in notes on the hospital wing.
It must shoulder not only the work of all other civilian hospitals, but is also the first port of call for military casualties on this section of the front.

Doctors declined to give figures for those casualties, but it is clear the hospital is overloaded.
The beds are for the more serious casualties, while walking wounded take seats in the corridors.



 















“Yesterday I took children to the morgue. What kind of ceasefire do you really expect?” said Sergei Supron, a volunteer with a civilian group that runs ambulances towards the front line to bring back wounded.
Mr Supron, a Kiev advertising man in civilian life, was referring to a rocket strike in Artemivsk that killed three people, including a seven-year-old, on Friday.
The attack, which peppered cluster bombs across gardens and driveways in a residential suburb, was another reminder that on this part of the front, the war is heating up, not cooling down.
Yesterday, repair crews and police investigators carefully stepped around the bloodstains that marked where one of the victims died on Zagorodnaya Street.

Every other home on the street of bungalows and vegetable gardens has been damaged.

A bomblet that landed squarely in the driveway of number 41 Zagorodnaya Street peppered a green metal gate with shrapnel. “I was out when it happened,” said Tania Magda, the 58-year-old owner. “All we want is peace. But how many attempts to have a ceasefire have we had already? I don’t really think this will work, even if I want it to.”

Alexander Zakharchenko, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, signed a decree ordering a ceasefire on Friday afternoon.

But he added in a press conference that the ceasefire would not apply to Debaltseve because he considered it to be inside separatist territory.

And he added that any attempt by the Ukrainians to break out of or to relieve the pocket would be considered “a violation of the Minsk agreement”.

That effectively presents the Ukrainians trapped in the pocket with an ultimatum: surrender or die.

Ukraine crisis: Shaky start for ceasefire with continued shelling outside key conflict zones

Mortar attacks from rebel-held territory, witnessed by The Independent, were directed against Ukrainian positions

Mironovsky
The thud of mortar and plumes of smoke rising from the fields beyond Mironovsky today suggested that Ukraine’s latest ceasefire, meant to have taken effect just after midnight on Saturday, had at best got off to a shaky start.
While artillery fell silent across much of the conflict zone, here, as in other villages around the strategic battle for Debaltseve, there was only limited respite.
The mortar attack from rebel-held territory, witnessed by The Independent, was directed against Ukrainian positions, with the most likely aim being to sever an eastern supply route that serves the besieged government-held town of Debaltseve, 10 miles away. The main road that leads into Debaltseve was already effectively blocked, with Russian-backed forces maintaining their grip at Logvinove, four miles further along the road. On Sunday, the alternative eastern supply route was also under heavy bombardment.
 “Chup”, a Ukrainian officer serving at the last checkpoint before Logvinove, laughed at the suggestion of a “ceasefire”. He says that the Ukrainians had been subjected to an “onslaught” from the hour the Presidents gave their final press conferences in Minsk. While he acknowledged that things had been quieter since the official start of the ceasefire at midnight, he said the Ukrainian side had nonetheless recorded several rounds of incoming mortars and Grad rockets, from 6am onwards. “You see for yourselves that we are some way off a ceasefire”, he said.



 Ukrainian soldiers play football on the road leading to Debaltseve  

Ukrainian soldiers play football on the road leading to Debaltseve

Soldiers at the checkpoint claimed the Ukrainians had not responded to the ceasefire breach, but The Independent observed outgoing rounds about 30 minutes later.

At least six Ukrainian officers were injured by Sunday’s rebel attacks, all of them being taken for treatment to a staging hospital in nearby Artemivsk. These were the luckier ones; some 40 other injured Ukrainian soldiers had been effectively trapped in Debaltseve for days, until medical officers of the 55th battalion were finally able to break through and evacuate them.

Sergei Nikolaevich, one of the medics involved in the operation, said that the group had been unable to evacuate all of the injured, and had been forced to abandon heavily decomposed corpses. He described how they had driven high trucks through rivers and over fields, delivering supplies and bringing the wounded out. “We take food and munitions that way, and return with the injured”, he said. Meanwhile, three injured soldiers reached Ukrainian positions on foot, having given up hope that the team would ever arrive.
READ MORE: Even if ceasefire lasts, Putin wins
Former British armoured vehicles arrive in conflict zone
Comment: Is Britain giving up on foreign policy?
Nikolaevich’s focus was the soldiers, but he admitted that more than 1,000 civilians remained trapped in Debaltseve. “We see grannies walking around, disoriented, but we don’t know what to do with them. Where can we take them?” he said.

The funeral of a seven-year-old boy killed when a shell hit his school  
The funeral of a seven-year-old boy killed when a shell hit his school
Officials of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which is meant to observe the ceasefire under the terms of the accord, reported that rebels had denied their monitors access to Debaltseve and Logvinove. They confirmed that firing continued in the town, but said that elsewhere in eastern Ukraine the ceasefire had otherwise been “largely observed”. It appears that the Russian-backed rebels are intent on fully encircling the Ukrainian army units in Debaltseve and will not stop fighting until the town falls into their hands.
“Chup” said he feared a repeat of the rebel action in Ilovaisk in late August, when he says Russian army units joined separatist forces to block entry and exit routes, then ambushed the remaining Ukrainians, resulting in several hundred being killed.
The officer said he was certain Russian forces were also engaged in the Debaltseve battles. “If you show me soldiers just with mortars, rifles and so on, I can believe they are separatists. But I can be sure that it isn’t separatists manning stations, or launching Smerch and Uragan rockets.”

The “rebel” artillery had been hitting its targets with deadly accuracy “that takes years of professional training”, he said. The US State Department said satellite images offer “credible pieces of evidence” that the Russian military has deployed multiple rocket launchers around Debaltseve to shell Ukrainian forces.

It will be a miracle if this ceasefire lasts – and even if it does, Putin comes out on top

We must hope it does, but Putin, having provoked the war, emerges undoubted winner if it does
http://world.einnews.com/article/250056422/z5FzonUfHngpqwVH
















On a dank day last March I was chatting to tense Ukrainian officers besieged in their Crimean base by Russian armed forces when the colonel took a call on his phone. He told me it was from troops under attack on another nearby military post, so I rushed there and almost stood on the first splashes of military blood spilled in a conflict that has now lasted nearly a year.

That same Tuesday in Moscow, Vladimir Putin gave an hour-long speech in which he denied again that there was any Russian aggression on the peninsula – even as he confirmed its annexation.

“Don’t believe those who try to frighten you with Russia and who scream that other regions will follow after Crimea,” he said. “We do not want partition of Ukraine.”
Read more:
Vladimir Putin is acting like 'a mid-20th century tyrant'
President Putin is a dangerous psychopath
The $35 billion problem worrying Putin
How hollow those words sound now. The following month Putin ended his pretence that Russian forces were not involved in the capture of Crimea. Three months later, and I was in Donetsk witnessing the first skirmishes over an airport that had only recently stood as a symbol of Ukrainian pride for the European football championships. Today, the airport is destroyed like so many other places in the Donbass region, amid a brutal war that has left 5,300 people dead and more than one million refugees.

Only one person should be blamed for this needless tragedy that has torn apart a country and plunged our continent into possibly its most perilous moment since the end of the Second World War. And that is the scheming Russian president, who has run his country like a mafia boss since coming to power at the start of the century – then lied and lied again over sparking war in a neighbouring nation to protect his own power base after his patsy president in Kiev was ousted.

Saturday night saw the start of another ceasefire no-one expects to last. Both sides spent the previous days reinforcing positions. On Sunday, minutes after the latest Minsk agreement came into force, Kiev claimed it was being broken. Hours later shells fell as pro-Russian rebels protested the deal did not apply in Debaltseve, where they have thousands of Ukrainian troops encircled.

It will be a miracle if this armistice sticks a month, let alone until late next year when Ukraine is due to be handed back control of its border.

We must hope it does, of course – for if it breaks down, the United States seems set to start arming the decrepit Ukrainian forces, inflaming a potentially-explosive proxy war in Europe between the two previous Cold War superpowers.But if the deal does stick Putin, having provoked the war, emerges undoubted winner. He will have annexed Crimea comfortably and turned the supposed “people’s republics” on his European flank into Russian-backed buffer regions – similar to Moscow’s other splinter states carved from Georgia and Moldova. Yet a study by Oxford University researchers last December found only five per cent of people supported full separatism in eastern Ukraine, even in rebel heartlands of Donetsk and Luhansk.
The West has adopted a supine stance based upon moderate sanctions. This demonstrated again that appeasement of an expansionist despot does not work – and now, the bear is both wounded and emboldened.
So let no-one retain any illusions over the ruthless nature of Putin’s Russia. This fine nation is controlled by a corrupt elite of ex-KGB cronies who have harnessed religion and nationalism to their self-serving cause – and they have shown with utmost clarity they will stop at nothing to keep the Kremlin in their possession.
Whatever happens in Ukraine, this should alarm us. Instead a chorus of useful idiots fell for this seedy cabal’s revisionist take on history, the right encouraged by hatred of Europe and the left driven by dislike of the US. There were no broken treaties on Nato expansion, no broken pledges, no “humiliation” of Moscow. The only major breach has been Russia’s  dismissal of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, signed to protect Kiev’s sovereignty when it gave up nuclear weapons.
People living in former Soviet satellites have sought to embrace the European ideal, pushing democratic reforms and desirous of greater prosperity – and this is what so scares Putin. Most Ukrainians only want the same. We should encourage whatever remains of this battered nation along a similar road as it struggles to emerge from its Soviet past and shattering war, burdened with a devastated economy, plummeting population and kleptocratic elite.
One legacy of this corrosive conflict is that it is no longer inconceivable that Putin could stir up similar trouble in a Nato state such as Latvia or Estonia. Given the tense situation, the West’s display of pusillanimity and growing divisions in Nato – to say nothing of events across the Middle East and Sahel – it is hard not to wonder at the wisdom of cutting defence budgets so far that the British army has shrunk to its smallest size since our own Crimean War. This policy must surely be reversed, regardless of austerity and the nation’s desire not to get dragged back into conflict.
For who knows if those splashes of blood I saw in Simferopol were the start of 10 months of fighting in Ukraine or something far worse. Whether the Minsk ceasefire holds or not, this crisis caused by Vladimir the Terrible’s aggression feels far from over.
 


Fighting Strains Ukraine Truce as Russia Attacks New EU Bans

http://world.einnews.com/article/250156261/yZ65buBa6qursYBk

Feb 16, 2015 11:59 am ET
(Updates with Ukrainian bonds in ninth paragraph.)

Five government troops were killed and 25 wounded in battles near the strategic port city of Mariupol, the first deaths reported since the truce began on Feb. 15, and fighting continues in the area at Shyrokyne, Ukrainian military spokesman Dmytro Chalyi said by phone on Monday. Conditions “don’t yet exist” for separatist forces to withdraw their heavy weaponry from the conflict zone, rebel spokesman Eduard Basurin said, according to the Interfax news service.

“This is a very difficult path,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin. The cease-fire is “fragile” and “it was always very, very clear that there’s a lot to do” to secure a truce.

Both sides in the conflict accused each other of violating the cease-fire brokered in the Belarus capital, Minsk, by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France. Similar agreements have failed to defuse the almost one-year crisis that’s killed more than 5,600 people, according to the United Nations, and led to the most serious confrontation between Russia and the U.S. and the EU since the Cold War.

‘Ridiculous’ Extension

The EU extended a blacklist to another 19 people and nine entities. Russia called the move “ridiculous” after the peace deal signed last week.

“Every time hope appears for a resolution of the Ukrainian conflict, Brussels hurries to introduce new anti-Russian restrictions,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website.
The four leaders plan to hold a phone conversation today and Russia still hopes the Minsk agreement will be fulfilled, Kremlin presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said on Monday, according to Interfax. The new EU sanctions are illegal and “hamper the development of relations” with Russia, he said.

Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Arkady Bakhin and Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov are among those added to the EU’s blacklist, which the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said will receive an “appropriate reaction.” There are now 151 individuals under travel bans and asset freezes, while 37 entities are also under sanctions.

Market Unease

Markets were mixed. Ukraine’s foreign-currency bonds fell as the government said it was looking to restructure its debt by June and the cease-fire showed signs of strain. Ukraine’s $1.25 billion of bonds maturing April 2023 fell 0.55 cent to 51.09 cents on the dollar by 6:11 p.m. in Kiev, extending a 2.4-cent drop on Feb. 13. The hryvnia weakened 1.1 percent, after declining 3.3 percent last week.

The ruble strengthened 0.5 percent against the dollar and Russian government ruble bonds advanced for a fourth day as oil traded above $60 a barrel.

The cease-fire is being observed, “generally speaking,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Monday. Pockets of fighting are “of concern,” such as around the town of Debaltseve, a key rail junction on the road between the rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, and the OSCE must assess the situation in the town, Seibert said.

The separatists don’t allow monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to inspect the area around Debaltseve, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters in Kiev on Monday. Rebels have fired 129 times at Ukrainian troops since the truce began and the attacks prevent government forces from withdrawing heavy weapons, he said.

Heavy Weapons

The Minsk agreement signed by Ukrainian and rebel representatives requires both sides to begin withdrawing heavy weaponry behind a buffer zone from the second day after the cease-fire and to complete the pullback within 14 days.
Rebel attacks on Debaltseve are more intense than before the cease-fire, though government forces are “managing” the situation, Ukrainian military spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov told reporters in Kiev on Monday.
As many as 5,000 people are trapped in the town and hiding in basements “as there are explosions all the time,” Natalia Karabuta, the head of Debaltseve’s health department, said by phone. “People are left without bread and water. Debaltseve’s hospital was hit, so it doesn’t take patients. Doctors are also hiding in basements.”

Truce Breached

Ukrainian forces broke the cease-fire 27 times in the past day, Basurin said, according to the separatist-run DAN news service. Ukrainian artillery also fired at rebel-held Donetsk airport on Monday, DAN reported, citing its own correspondent.

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed implementation of the Minsk agreement at a meeting of Russia’s Security Council on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Interfax.

“The Minsk accords were another step toward peace but everything depends on Russia and whether our western allies will be able to restrain Russia,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said in an interview Sunday on television channel 1+1. “Peace can be reached and can be guaranteed only when Ukraine can defend itself.”

NATO is offering Ukraine “practical support” in its military reform, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with Russia’s Kommersant newspaper published Monday. The military alliance doesn’t have weapons to provide to Ukraine and any decision on sending arms is a matter for individual member states, he told Kommersant.

‘Common Position’

Ukraine, the U.S., the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization say Russia is supporting the separatists with hardware, cash and troops -- accusations the Kremlin denies. Russia says Ukraine is waging war on its own citizens and discriminates against Russian speakers, a majority in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Sunday discussed the implementation of the cease-fire by phone with Putin, Merkel and French President Francois Hollande. Their “common position” is that the truce should extend across the entire line of contact, including the area of Debaltseve, according to a statement issued by Poroshenko’s office.

The head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, has said that the cease-fire won’t extend to the area. All Ukrainian troops pinned down in Debaltseve must lay down their arms and abandon the town, Zakharchenko said Sunday in a statement carried by DAN.

--With assistance from Volodymyr Verbyany in Kiev, John Walcott in Washington and Aliaksandr Kudrytski in Minsk, Belarus.

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