No sooner did Russia’s state-run Channel One broadcast an image it claimed proved a Ukrainian government fighter jet shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in July, than bloggers and other netizens rushed to debunk the report.
“Channel One has at its disposal what turns out to be a sensational shot, presumably taken by a foreign spy satellite, in the last moments of the Malaysian Boeing’s flight over Ukraine,” reads a story posted to Channel One’s website, alongside a black and white photo apparently depicting a fighter jet shooting down a Boeing.
Bloggers reluctant to take the state-run news outfit at its word immediately emerged from the woodwork. Twitter exploded with claims calling the image’s authenticity into question.
Responding to a wave of criticism, Channel One said it had received the image from the Russian Union of Engineers, which in turn got it from an MIT graduate named George Bilt.
In an interview with BuzzFeed on Saturday, Bilt said he had obtained the image online and sent it to the Russian Union of Engineers to look into its authenticity.>> Read More
A candidate opposed to the relocation of a US naval base appears to have won an emphatic election victory in the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa, in a potential blow to Tokyo’s ties with the US, its most important ally.
On Sunday evening Takeshi Onaga seemed assured of defeating other candidates – including the two-term incumbent, Hirokazu Nakaima, who was backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic party – in the race to become the new governor of Okinawa, according to projections from Kyodo, the news agency.
Mr Onaga, a 64-year-old former mayor of Naha, the prefectural capital, fought a campaign based on his opposition to plans to relocate the base in the densely populated city of Ginowan, to a new site in the Henoko district of the city of Nago, about 30km to the northeast.
Last December, Mr Nakaima had approved a request by the central government to start filling in part of the bay in Henoko in preparation for the move, drawing outrage from anti-base protesters.>> Read More
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering dissolving the lower house and calling a snap election by the end of this year as he faces a tough decision on a planned consumption tax hike, government and ruling party sources said Tuesday.
“The prime minister is considering various options, and one of them is a House of Representatives election by the end of the year,” a government source said.
A senior official of Abe’s Liberal Democratic party said the premier “may dissolve (the lower house) as early as Nov. 19,” two days after he returns from a summit of the Group of 20 countries in Australia, the last leg of his ongoing three-nation tour.
If the lower house is dissolved, official campaigning for a general election is expected to start Dec. 2 or Dec. 9, with voting set for Dec. 14 or Dec. 21, according to the sources.
Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito, said Tuesday he will prepare his party “for a year-end election scenario.”
Many political pundits expect Abe to delay the next consumption tax hike, planned for October 2015, if he decides to dissolve the lower house anytime soon.>> Read More
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Monday that the situation in Ukraine’s rebel-held eastern regions had again become serious and all sides must respect a cease-fire agreement.
His comments during a visit to Kazakhstan underlined growing concern about an increase in fighting between pro-Russian separatists and government forces in the past week despite a cease-fire agreed in the Belarussian capital, Minsk, on Sept. 5.
“Unfortunately, the situation is again serious. I now think that we must call upon all those involved in this conflict, as well as the Russian side, to return again to the terms of the Minsk protocol,” Steinmeier told a news conference.
East Ukraine’s rebel stronghold Donetsk was pummelled on Sunday by the heaviest shelling in a month, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said it had spotted an armoured column of troops without insignia in rebel territory that Kiev said proved Moscow had sent reinforcements.>> Read More
Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader, has warned that the world is edging closer to a new Cold War, in comments made on the eve of celebrations to mark the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“The world is on the brink of a new Cold War,” said Mr Gorbachev, speaking at an event, near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, to mark the 25th anniversary. “Some are even saying that it’s already begun.”
The 83-year-old, who ordered his Soviet troops stationed in EastGermany to remain in their barracks on the night of November 9 1989, has been scathing in his view of what he termed Western “triumphalism”.
“Taking advantage ofRussia‘s weakening and a lack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership and domination in the world. And they refused to heed the word of caution from many of those present here,” he said.
Forget Baghdad Bob. Meet Luhansk Lysenko, the spokesman of the Ukraine military, and the guy who every single day floods whatever wires still care with the daily report of fighting, military invasions, and Russian troops entering the country, aka the proverbial boy who cried wolf.
There was a time when the merest hint of Russia military activity at the Ukraine border would do the unthinkable: challenged central planners and send stocks lower. Who can forget the market drubbing when the Russian humanitarian convoy was going to enter east Ukraine and allegedly carry a DIY army?
Well, those days are long gone. Because with Ukraine repeating day after day after day, how many Russian soliders have entered the country, how many artilery shells have landed, and how Putin is just salivating to invade the economically devastated country, everyone completely tuned out.
Case in point, yet another report earlier today from Kiev, according to which “a column of 32 tanks, 16 howitzer artillery systems and trucks carrying ammunition and fighters has crossed into eastern Ukraine from Russia.”>> Read More
Russia test-fired a Sineva intercontinental missile from a submerged submarine in the Barents Sea on Wednesday as part of a check on the reliability of the navy’s strategic forces, the Defense Ministry said.
The liquid-fueled missile, which can carry nuclear warheads, was fired from the Tula submarine to the Kura Test Range in the far eastern region of Kamchatka, the state-run RIA news agency quoted the ministry as saying. It gave no other details.
The Sineva, which has a range of about 12,000 km (7,500 miles), entered service in 2007 and is part of efforts to prevent the weakening of Russia’s nuclear deterrent.
President Vladimir Putin has underlined the importance of the nuclear deterrent during the standoff with the West over the crisis in Ukraine, and Russia has held several military exercises during the crisis that have alarmed Western powers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States of sponsoring terrorism in Russia and Central Asia,
Putin spoke October 24 at the annual meeting of the Valdai Club, where foreign policy experts from around the world gather to talk about Russia. Although its major themes were previewed by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov a few days before, the Russian website slon.rusaid that the speech “could confidently be placed in the same rank as the 2007 Munich speech” (his first substantial criticism of the U.S. and the unipolar world it led) and was “the most anti-American speech Putin has given since coming to office 14 years ago.”
The entire speech is fascinating, and certainly will be studied as much as the Munich speechor his post-Crimean annexation speech by those trying to figure out Russia’s foreign policy. But one section of this speech is of particular interest to Bug Pit readers:
They [the U.S.] once sponsored Islamic extremist movements to fight the Soviet Union. Those groups got their battle experience in Afghanistan and later gave birth to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The West if not supported, at least closed its eyes, and, I would say, gave information, political and financial support to international terrorists’ invasion of Russia (we have not forgotten this) and the Central Asian region’s countries. Only after horrific terrorist attacks were committed on US soil itself did the United States wake up to the common threat of terrorism. Let me remind you that we were the first country to support the American people back then, the first to react as friends and partners to the terrible tragedy of September 11.
The tug-of-war between Russia and Ukraine over the separatist stronghold city of Donetsk has created a European Kashmir and will lead to several years of conflict, an expert on Russia has said.
Militarization by both sides along the border has risen and public animosity between the two countries is growing, said Igor Sutyagin, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies and a former political prisoner in Russia.
“We have another Kashmir in the middle of Europe … There will be clashes from time to time because neither side will be able to pull back,” he told delegates on Wednesday at a Global Security Seminar organized by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, referring to the disputed territory on the border between India and Pakistan.
According to the United Nations, more than 3,500 people have died in the conflict, which erupted after pro-Western leaders took power in Kiev following street protests that chased Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych from power.>> Read More