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Wednesday, 19 March 2014 02:58

Crimean forces storm Ukrainian navy HQ

   SEVASTOPOL, Crimea (AP) — Crimea's self-defense forces on Wednesday stormed the Ukrainian navy base in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol a day after Russia signed a treaty with local authorities to annex the region.
   An Associated Press photographer witnessed several hundred self-defense forces force their way onto the headquarters' premises and raise the Russian flag on the square by the headquarters.
   Ukrainian servicemen were standing guard by the main building. Crimean self-defense forces are not armed and seemed to be waiting for the Ukrainian army's decision whether to let them in.
   Russia on Tuesday signed a treaty to incorporate Crimea into its territory following a referendum in which residents of Ukraine's region overwhelmingly backed the move. Ukraine and the West consider the vote illegitimate.
   The United States and the European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on Russia, targeting Russian and Crimean officials with visa bans and asset freezes.
Published in National News
   MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday approved a draft bill for the annexation of Crimea, one of a flurry of steps to formally take over the Black Sea peninsula.
   Crimea on Sunday voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and seek to join Russia. The West and Ukraine described the referendum which was announced two weeks ago as illegitimate.
   The United States and the European Union on Monday announced asset freezes and other sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials involved in the Crimean crisis. President Barack Obama warned that more would come if Russia didn't stop interfering in Ukraine.
   Russian troops have been occupying the region for more than two weeks.
   The decree signed by Putin and posted on the official government website Tuesday morning is one of the steps which would formalize the annexation of Crimea. Russia, however, still has a room to back off. The treaty to annex Crimea has to be signed by leaders of Russia and Crimea leader and then ratified by the parliament.
   Putin is set to address both houses of the parliament at 3 p.m. Moscow time (1100 GMT) in a nationally televised speech where he is widely expected to stake Russia's claim on Crimea.
   Crimea had been part of Russia since the 18th century until Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred it to Ukraine in 1954. Both Russians and Crimea's majority ethnic Russian population see annexation as correcting a historic insult.
   Ukraine's turmoil, which began in November with a wave of protests against President Viktor Yanukovych and accelerated after he fled to Russia in late February, has become Europe's most severe security crisis in years.
Published in National News
Friday, 07 February 2014 03:13

Obama Explains Putin's Tough Guy "Shtick"

   President Obama thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin's "shtick" is to try to look like a "tough guy."
   Putin, after all, has carefully crafted a no-nonsense public image as a rugged outdoorsman. He’s been photographed hunting, fishing and riding horses, all while bare-chested.
   Despite appearing standoffish in meetings with Obama, the U.S. president said his Russian counterpart has always treated him with "respect" and that "there's a surprising amount of humor" in their interactions.
   "He does have a public style where he likes to sit back and look a little bored during the course of joint interviews," Obama told NBC News as the network kicked of its Olympic coverage. "I think that's where some of these perceptions come up."
   "My sense is that's part of his shtick back home politically as wanting to look like the tough guy," he said. "U.S. politicians have a different style. We tend to smile once in a while."
 
Published in National News
Thursday, 19 September 2013 01:46

McCain slams Putin in opinion piece for Pravda

   WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. John McCain is accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of corruption, repression and self-serving rule in an opinion piece for Pravda that answers the Russian leader's broadside published last week in an American newspaper.

   In an op-ed headlined "Russians Deserve Better That Putin," McCain singles out Putin and his associates for punishing dissent, specifically the death in prison of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The Russian presidential human rights council found in 2011 that Magnitsky, who had accused Russian officials of colluding with organized criminals, had been beaten and denied medical treatment.

   McCain also criticized Putin for siding with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the 2½ year civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people.

   McCain insists that he is not anti-Russian but rather "more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today."

   "President Putin doesn't believe ... in you. He doesn't believe that human nature at liberty can rise above its weaknesses and build just, peaceful, prosperous societies. Or, at least, he doesn't believe Russians can. So he rules by using those weaknesses, by corruption, repression and violence. He rules for himself, not you," McCain wrote.

   The senator submitted the editorial to Pravda and was told it would be posted on Thursday. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the editorial.

   McCain assailed Putin and his associates for writing laws that codify bigotry, specifically legislation on sexual orientation. A new Russian law imposes fines and up to 15 days in prison for people accused of spreading "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors.

   On Syria, McCain said Putin is siding with a tyrant.

   "He is not enhancing Russia's global reputation. He is destroying it. He has made her a friend to tyrants and an enemy to the oppressed, and untrusted by nations that seek to build a safer, more peaceful and prosperous world," the Arizona senator said.

   McCain also criticized the imprisonment of the punk rock band Pussy Riot. The three women were convicted of hooliganism after staging an anti-Putin protest inside a Russian Orthodox Church.

   The article by McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, comes just days after the U.S. and Russian officials reached an ambitious agreement that calls for an inventory of Syria's chemical weapons program within a week, and its complete eradication by mid-2014. Diplomatic wrangling continues, however.

   Last week, Putin blamed opposition forces for the latest deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria and argued President Barack Obama's remarks about America were self-serving in an opinion piece for The New York Times. Putin also said it was dangerous for America to think of itself as exceptional, a reference to a comment Obama made.

   McCain was not the first U.S. lawmaker to respond to Putin. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., wrote in an editorial for the Moscow Times about the suppression of the Russian people and the disregard for basic human rights.

Published in National News

   BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — Russia's President Vladimir Putin says that Syria's move to join an international convention banning chemical weapons has proven its good faith.

   Speaking at a summit of an international security grouping dominated by Russia and China, Putin said Friday the move showed that Syria has "serious intentions to embark on that path."

   Syria made a formal bid Thursday to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. The U.N. welcomed the move, but said that it could take 30 days for Syria to become a member.

   Russia proposed on Monday that Syria surrenders control over its chemical weapons to the international community for its eventual dismantling to avoid a U.S. military strike, and Damascus quickly jumped at the offer. Top U.S. and Russian diplomats are holding talks in Geneva to discuss the plan's specifics.

Published in National News
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 03:16

AP Interview: Putin warns West on Syria action

   NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia (AP) - President Vladimir Putin has warned the West against taking one-sided action in Syria, but says Russia "doesn't exclude" supporting a U.N. resolution on punitive military strikes if it is proved that Damascus used poison gas on its own people.

   Putin spoke in a wide-ranging interview to The Associated Press and Russia's state Channel 1 television late Tuesday at his residence outside Moscow.

   It was the only one he granted prior to the summit of G-20 nations in St. Petersburg, which opens Thursday.

   The summit was supposed to concentrate on the global economy but now looks likely to be dominated by the international crisis over the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria's civil war.

   Putin expressed hope that he and President Barack Obama would have serious discussions in St. Petersburg.

Published in National News

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