Putin says Russia may invade Ukraine to protect locals

Moscow: Russia may invade south-east Ukraine to protect the local population, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

Speaking live at his annual call-in show in a Moscow television studio, Mr Putin implied he reserved the right to move Russian troops into the neighbouring country on behalf of pro-Russian residents.

“We know quite well that we must do our best to protect their rights and help them independently decide their fate, and we will struggle for that,” he said. “I remind you that the Federation Council of Russia [the upper house of parliament] empowered the president to use the armed forces in Ukraine.” Continue reading

BRICS countries to set up their own IMF

Very soon, the IMF will cease to be the world’s only organization capable of rendering international financial assistance. The BRICS countries are setting up alternative institutions, including a currency reserve pool and a development bank.

The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have made significant progress in setting up structures that would serve as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which are dominated by the U.S. and the EU. A currency reserve pool, as a replacement for the IMF, and a BRICS development bank, as a replacement for the World Bank, will begin operating as soon as in 2015, Russian Ambassador at Large Vadim Lukov has said.

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Is an Asian NATO Possible?

In the new concluding chapter to his classic The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, John Mearsheimer argues: “There is already substantial evidence that countries like India, Japan, and Russia, as well as smaller powers like Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam, are worried about China’s ascendancy and are looking for ways to contain it. In the end, they will join an American-led balancing coalition to check China’s rise, much the way Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and eventually China, joined forces with the United States during the Cold War to contain the Soviet Union.”

This is at odds with most analyses which postulate that Asia is not ripe for a NATO style containment block against China. For instance, in summing up the conventional wisdom on the subject, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Stewart Patrick opined last summer that: “Despite its strategic ‘rebalancing’ toward Asia, the United States is unlikely to sponsor a collective defense organization for the Asia-Pacific, for at least three reasons: insufficient solidarity among diverse regional partners, fear of alienating China, and the perceived advantages of bilateral and ad-hoc security arrangements.”

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Is Ukraine about to go nuclear again?

A new global nuclear arms race may soon begin, and the world will have Putin to thank.

In 1994, Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United States and the United Kingdom entered into an agreement to remove former Soviet nuclear weapons from Ukraine, later known as the Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine agreed to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In the history of nuclear weapons, only four states have ever walked away from nuclear capabilities: three post-Soviet states (Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan) and South Africa, which had covertly developed a nuclear weapons arsenal. Continue reading

Iran to Set Up Naval Zone in Eastern Caspian Sea

TEHRAN (Tasnim) — Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced on Wednesday that the Navy will establish a naval zone east of the Caspian Sea.

Speaking in a ceremony to mark the National Army Week in the Northern port city of Bandar Anzali on Wednesday, Sayyari emphasized that the navy has increased its forces’ level of preparedness.

“In the near future a new naval zone will be established east of the Caspian Sea,” the commander said. Continue reading

Germany warns of war in Europe

Germany warned of war in Europe on Monday, with vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel stating the continent was being “dragged” into a “smouldering conflict” with Russia over Ukraine.

Gabriel - at an event commemorating World War I with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls – warned of resurgent nationalist forces both within Europe and “in its neighbourhood”.

He said that good news several months ago from Ukraine – including an end to bloody violence against protesters – had since given way to “an ongoing military confrontation” and the realization that “Russia is apparently willing to let tanks cross European borders.” Continue reading

Washington and Moscow pulling strings to hold Ukraine combatants back from brink of civil war

The US and Russia, while trading the blame for pushing Ukraine to the brink of civil war, are nonetheless tugging at the leashes of the two players in the field, each jockeying for advantage in the quadrilateral meeting of senior US, Russian, European, Ukrainian and UN officials scheduled to take place in Geneva Thursday, April 17, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report.

Expectations of fruitful results from the meeting are low. But the fact that all the parties are talking offers Ukraine its last hope of escaping a bloody civil war. To this end, too, late-night phone calls are being exchanged among Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel. Continue reading

Tense scenes at Kramatorsk airbase in Ukraine

Ukrainian armed forces launched a “special operation” against militiamen in the country’s Russian speaking east, authorities said, recapturing a military airfield from pro-Moscow separatists. Continue reading

Ukraine pushes tanks and troops into separatist east

IZYUM (Ukraine) (AFP) – Ukraine pushed tanks toward a flashpoint eastern city on Tuesday to quash a separatist surge backed by Moscow — a high-risk operation that was sharply condemned by the Kremlin but won Washington’s support.

The 20 tanks and armoured personnel carriers were the most forceful response yet by the Western-backed government in Kiev to the pro-Kremlin militants’ occupation of state buildings in nearly 10 cities across Ukraine’s rust belt.

Ukrainian forces set up a cement road barrier and began checking traffic leading to Slavyansk while fighters and attack helicopters circled overhead. Continue reading

Russia Tests Multi-Warhead ICBM

Russia’s military carried out a flight test of a new multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile on Monday amid growing tensions with the United States over the crisis in Ukraine.

The SS-27 Mod 2 road-mobile ICBM was launched around 2:40 a.m. EST from Russia’s Plesetsk launch facility, located about 500 miles north of Moscow.

“The main purpose of the launch is to validate the reliability of a batch of this class of missiles made at the Votkinsk Plant,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Yegorov told state-run Interfax-AVN.

An unspecified number of simulated nuclear warheads landed at an impact range on the Kura test range on the Kamchatka Peninsula, in the Russian Far East, Yegorov said. The distance is around 3,500 miles.

The SS-27 Mod 2 is Russia’s newest ICBM and has been touted by Russian officials as designed specifically to defeat U.S. missile defenses. Continue reading

Three EU countries back Ukraine’s use of force

BRUSSELS - Lithuania, Luxembourg and Sweden have explicitly backed Ukraine’s right to use force against pro-Russian separatists.

Lithuania’s UN envoy, Raimonda Murmokaite, and her Luxembourg counterpart, Olivier Maes, made the statements at a snap UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting in New York on Sunday (13 April).

“When the existence of the state is put in danger, we support the right of Ukraine to defend itself in the face of external aggression and to tackle militant separatism and continuous provocations,” Murmokaite said. Continue reading

White House confirms CIA director visited Ukraine over weekend

White House spokesman Jay Carney confirmed that CIA Director John Brennan visited Ukrainian capital Kiev over the weekend and met with high-ranked Ukrainian officials.

Previously, deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich accused Brennan of ordering a crackdown on pro-Russian activists in the east of the country.

The CIA had already dismissed these accusations as “completely false”, but did not disclose whether its chief had actually been to Kiev – until now.

“We don’t normally comment on the CIA director’s travel but given the extraordinary circumstances in this case and the false claims being leveled by the Russians at the CIA we can confirm that the director was in Kiev as part of a trip to Europe,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters. Continue reading