Newscast Media WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama signed a bill authorizing new
sanctions against Russia on December 18 but said that he would not impose them “at
The Ukraine Freedom Support Act authorizes—but does not technically require—
defensive lethal aid for Kyiv and sanctions against Russian defense and energy
Obama said in a statement that the signing of the legislation “does not signal a
change in the administration’s sanctions policy.”
Sanctions, along with plummeting oil prices, have contributed to Russia’s economic
turmoil, as well as the fall of its currency.
The bill passed the divided U.S. Congress unanimously.
The bill also authorizes more loan guarantees for Ukraine and additional funds to
address the country’s energy shortage, for U.S. international broadcasting, and for
Russian democracy and civil society organizations.
Source: Radio Free Europe
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Moscow has warned Washington a potential policy shift
from supplying Kiev with “non-lethal aid” to “defensive lethal weapons”, mulled as US
Vice President visits Ukraine, would be a direct violation of all international
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that reports of possible deliveries of
American “defensive weapons” to Ukraine would be viewed by Russia as a “very
“We heard repeated confirmations from the [US] administration, that it only supplies
non-lethal aid to Ukraine. If there is a change of this policy, then we are talking
about a serious destabilizing factor which could seriously affect the balance of power
in the region,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich cautioned
according to Russia Today.
His remarks follow US deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken Wednesday’s
statement at a hearing before the Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs, in which he
said that Biden may offer the provision of “lethal defensive weapons” as he visits
Ukraine. Lethal assistance “remains on the table. It’s something that we’re looking at,”
“We paid attention not only to such statements, but also to the trip of
representatives of Ukrainian volunteer battalions to Washington, who tried to muster
support of the US administration,” Lukashevich said.
The Ministry made it clear that such a move by Washington would violate a number of
“This is a very serious signal for several reasons. First of all, this is a direct violation
of agreements, including the ones achieved in partnership with the United States. I
mean the Geneva Declaration from 17 April,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko requested lethal aid from the US during a visit to
Washington in September.
American Vice President Joe Biden who has arrived in Kiev late Thursday has not yet
made any official announcement, but Reuters’ sources point to the possibility that US
might increase a “non-lethal” aid package to Kiev instead of opting to supply arms.
Source: Al Manar TV News
Newscast Media HOUSTON—Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on
Wednesday that Ukraine is on the brink of civil war, which will make it difficult to hold
free and fair elections later this month. Lavrov added that pro-Moscow separatists
should be included in Western-sponsored roundtable unity talks, according to AFP.
“When Ukrainians kill Ukrainians, I believe this is as close to a civil war as you can
get,” Lavrov said in an interview with Bloomberg television.
Lavrov added that “in east and south of Ukraine there is a war, a real war, with
heavy weaponry used.
“And if this is conducive to free and fair elections, then I don’t recognize what free
and fair is.”
Source: Tehran Times
Ukraine is due to hold crunch presidential elections on May 25. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media KIEV—The Ukrainian interim government has sent an elite national
guard unit to the volatile port city of Odessa. The deployment on Monday is
reportedly part of efforts to take back control of the eastern and southern regions.
The move came after anti-government demonstrators in the Black Sea port city of
Odessa pledged to occupy official buildings three days after nearly 40 people were
killed in a fire at a trade union building allegedly set by pro-Kiev activists.
Earlier in the day, pro-Russian activists and Ukrainian troops clashed on the outskirts
of the country’s eastern city of Slavyansk.
Pro-Russian activists said more than 20 armed members were killed and 15 others
injured during the Ukrainian forces’ renewed crackdown on the pro-Russian stronghold
of Slavyansk on Monday.
In a statement, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry also said four government troops were
killed and 30 others wounded in the clashes.
On April 17, Kiev’s interim government together with the US, Russia and the European
Union reached an agreement in the Swiss city of Geneva, calling for all sides to ease
the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine.
Nevertheless, a few days later, the Kiev government ordered a re-launch of its
controversial “anti-terrorist operations” in the eastern and southern regions in a bid to
root out the pro-Russian demonstrations.
Pro-Moscow protesters continue to occupy a number of government, police and
other administrative buildings in a dozen cities and towns in the region, demanding
integration into neighboring Russia.
Source: Press TV
Newscast Media MOSCOW—President Vladimir Putin has called claims Russia is behind
eastern Ukraine’s unrest “nonsense.” He has accused the government in Kyiv of
raising tensions in the region, while expressing hope for crisis talks.
During the beginning of a televised call with the nation on Thursday, Putin said
Ukraine’s decision to send armed forces to the country’s restive east rather than
establishing a dialogue was a “grave crime.” He also dismissed Western accusations
that Russian special forces were present in the region, saying the people there have
risen up against a government that has ignored their rights and legitimate demands.
“It’s all nonsense, there are no special units, special forces or instructors there,” the
Russian president said. He added the protests in eastern Ukraine, which have driven
separatist sentiment in recent weeks and resulted in gunmen seizing government
offices and police stations in at least 10 cities, involve only locals.
Ukraine’s new government, which took over following the fall of former president
Viktor Yanukovych earlier this year, is dragging the country towards an “abyss,” Putin
said, slamming the decision to launch a military operation against separatists who
have seized buildings.
“This is one more serious crime by the current Kyiv authorities,” Putin said.
Putin urged that diplomacy was the way to reach a solution to the crisis, saying he
“very much hopes” Russia will not have to send its military to eastern Ukraine.
“Only through dialogue, through democratic procedures and not with the use of armed
forces, tanks and planes, can order be imposed in the country,” he said. “It is very
important today to think about how to get out of this situation and offer people a
genuine dialogue and not just one for show.”
Source: Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that the
United States would not take military action in Ukraine against Russia.
“We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine,” Obama said in an
interview according to Xinhua.
“I think even the Ukrainians would acknowledge, for us to engage Russia militarily
would not be appropriate and would not be good for Ukraine, either,” Obama said.
“What we are going to do is mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that
we’ve got a strong international coalition that sends a clear message,” he added.
In response to the Ukraine crisis, the Obama administration has focused on providing
economic aid to Ukraine and imposing sanctions against Russia.
On Monday, Obama announced sanctions against 11 Russian and Ukraine officials who
the United States said are responsible for threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty and
territorial integrity. He indicated that further sanctions could be on the way.
In defiance of condemnations and further sanctions by the West, Russian President
Vladimir Putin signed a treaty on Tuesday with leaders of Crimea to accept the
Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as part of the Russian territory.
“Crimea is part of our common heritage and a key factor of stability in the region. This
strategic territory should be under strong, stable sovereignty, which in effect can
only be Russian,” Putin told parliament.
The accession treaty followed Monday’s decision by the Crimean parliament to
declare independence from Ukraine and Sunday’s referendum in the peninsula of
Crimea showed an overwhelming 96.77 percent of Crimeans in favor of rejoining
The White House said on Wednesday that Russia was “directly responsible” for
casualties in Crimea amid reports that two people had been killed by sniper shots in