28 February 2015 - 7:31 am
Boris Nemtsov, one of the most senior leaders of Russia’s political opposition, was shot dead in central Moscow early on Saturday in what his associates said was a political murder and President Vladimir Putin decried as a ‘provocation’.
The fatal attack on Mr Nemtsov, 55, came less than two days before a planned opposition protest against Mr Putin and drew international condemnation.
The veteran opposition leader, a former deputy prime minister under Mr Putin’s predecessor Boris Yeltsin, was killed with four shots from a pistol from a passing car as he was walking on a bridge over the Moskva River directly south of the Kremlin, an interior ministry spokeswoman said.
Ilya Yashin, a close associate of Mr Nemtsov, said the killing was a political murder as Mr Nemtsov had been preparing a report on the war in eastern Ukraine with evidence showing that Russian soldiers are fighting there, a fact still denied by Moscow.
According to his spokesman, Mr Putin said “this brutal murder has all the hallmarks of a contract killing and is a pure provocation”. Dmitry Peskov added that the president had taken the investigation into the murder under his personal responsibility. >> Read More
26 February 2015 - 6:25 am
President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that Russia would halt gas supplies to Ukraine if it did not receive advance payment, raising the possibility of onward deliveries to Europe being disrupted for the fourth time in a decade.
Criticizing Ukraine for cutting off gas to eastern regions where separatists have risen up against Kiev’s rule, he said: “Imagine these people will be left without gas in winter. Not only that there is famine … It smells of genocide.”
Putin said he hoped there would be no Russian supply cuts but warned that Europe was dependent on Ukraine’s “financial discipline.”
Europe received around 147 billion cubic meters of Russian gas last year — or around a third of its total needs — with roughly 40 percent shipped via Ukraine. >> Read More
15 February 2015 - 17:53 pm
Latest Minsk agreement ceasefire came into effect at 22.00 GMT last night and currentlly appears to holding, albeit with sporadic shelling mainly around the besieged town of Debaltseve.
The next 48 hours will be crucial and markets will remain on high alert
The BBC has more here and Reuters has this
12 February 2015 - 20:50 pm
The new ceasefire agreement in Ukraine struck after a night of talks was lambasted as “absolutely weak” by the Lithuanian president, as attention now turns to whether Russia will abide by it.
Lithuania slammed the deal as less coherent than the original Minsk agreement and said that it did little to ensure that the Ukrainian government would have full control of the border with Russia.
“The solution is absolutely weak,” said Dalia Grybauskaite, Lithuania’s president, at a summit in Brussels.
The criticism came as French President François Hollande, who along with German chancellor Angela Merkel, brought the Russian and Ukrainian leaders to the table, admitted that “an agreement has been secured, but at the same time everything can go in either direction, and the next hours will be decisive”.
EU leaders are gathering for a summit in Brussels, and Mr Hollande told reporters as he entered the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels: >> Read More
10 February 2015 - 15:40 pm
Who are the biggest losers from this election and how will their loss be justified? Here is a short list.
1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi: In his rallies in Delhi, Modi had said all those who were predicting the AAP’s victory were ‘bazaaru’ (up for sale).
True, the Delhi result is no referendum on the central government’s performance. It is just another state election. But, and that’s an uppercase BUT, it has to read with a trend. In Maharashtra and Jharkhand the BJP was not able to get full majority. In the Rajasthan local elections two days ago, the Congress and BJP were almost neck-and-neck even after the BJP’s spectacular performance both in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. In the bye-elections last year the BJP lost miserably. All this despite Modi’s supposed hold on young people, the dreams he sold, the promises he made in the rallies that were held here (although to be honest, the promises were not that many – on which more later).
There are many in the BJP who are secretly saying that this is not at all a bad thing for the BJP. Does this mean Narendra Modi is over? Not at all.
2. Amit Shah: As the strategist and party president, Shah had exhorted BJP workers to stop lazing about and come out to work for the party. Clearly, the appeal has not worked. Nor has the strategy. The BJP has never done so badly in Delhi, ever. Shah has to figure out why.
Two rounds of elections that will follow are in Bihar (October) and Uttar Pradesh (2017). Shah will have to micromanage those elections. Clearly, creating communal tension does not pay.
We were told that as part of election management, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had put its full might behind the elections. Really? If this is all it can come up with …
3. Rahul Gandhi: Zero seat? Enough said.
08 February 2015 - 17:37 pm
German intelligence estimates that the total number of people who have been killed in Ukraine is almost 50,000, including both civilians and the military, the German media reported on Sunday.
The estimates are ten times higher than the officially released death toll figures. The official data is clearly too low, German intelligence sources told a Frankfurt-based newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
Speaking at a Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Ukrainian President Poroshenko said that 1,200 combatants and 5,400 civilians have been killed during the conflict.
The September 2014 Minsk agreements envisaged a ceasefire between Kiev and pro-independence fighters in southeastern Ukraine, an all-for-all prisoner exchange and the withdrawal of heavy weaponry along the line of contact. >> Read More
07 February 2015 - 14:57 pm
Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande held talks lasting more than five hours on taking steps to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.
The much-anticipated talks in the Kremlin were held in a ‘face-to-face’ format behind closed doors.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated the negotiations were ‘constructive’ and the leaders have agreed to cooperate to elaborate a joint document on the implementation of the Minsk agreements in Ukraine, which will include proposals by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, as well as proposals formulated during the Moscow talks and by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Peskov added that all sides will hold talks by phone on Sunday, involving Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the leaders of France and Germany.
“The work will continue, the preliminary results will be summed up on Sunday during the telephone conversation, which will be held in the Normandy format,” and will involve Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the leaders of France and Germany, Peskov told reporters.
Before travelling to Moscow, Merkel and Hollande held talks with Poroshenko in Kiev on Thursday, discussing their proposals for a peaceful settlement of the crisis. >> Read More
28 January 2015 - 12:21 pm
US President Barack Obama has held a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, agreeing that Ukraine’s weak economy needs financial support, the White House has said in a press release.
According to the statement released Tuesday, the two leaders “agreed on the importance of finalizing a robust package of financial support for Ukraine to enable it to stabilize its economy”.
The US Department of Treasury announced earlier this month that it would give up to $2 billion in loan guarantees to the government of Ukraine in 2015. Last year, the United States provided Ukraine with some $340 million in assistance, in addition to the $1 billion sovereign loan guarantee provided in May, 2014.
Ukraine has found itself on the verge of a default amid the ongoing conflict in the southeast and Kiev has tried to rescue the country’s economy through international loans.
On Tuesday, the head of the Kremlin administration Sergei Ivanov told reporters that based on various credit agreements, Ukraine owes Russia $25 billion.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Moscow had not asked Kiev for early repayment of $3 billion, although it was due time, in order to support Ukraine’s economy.