Newscast Media DAMASCUS—The Syrian military has begun a major ground offensive on the country’s second city of Aleppo. The advance in northern Syria has been supported by the Russian air force.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday that in the past 24 hours, “dozens” of Russian airstrikes had struck the area which is controlled by a various groups including rebels, Islamist fighters and al Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, al Nusra Front.
“The Syrian army started a new front on Friday and advanced to take control of the villages of Abteen and Kaddar” about 15 kilometers (9 miles) south of Aleppo city,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
According to a senior military source in Syria, the assaults are also being supported by hundreds of fighters from Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
“This is the promised battle,” the source told Reuters news agency.
Several members of the international community have been questioning Russia’s intentions since Moscow launched its aeriel campaign in late September . Some Western officials have described the move as a ploy to bolster Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Russia maintains, however, that they are only targeting areas held by “Islamic State” (IS).
The safety of air personnel has also become an issue with the US and Russia both flying combat missions over Syria.
The offensive on Friday followed a similar advance by Syrian and Russian forces on Thursday on rebel-held areas of the central province of Homs.
The Observatory reported on Friday that at least 60 people, including 30 women and children, had been killed during the strikes. Seventeen rebel fighters were also among the dead.
The Syrian conflict has displaced millions and left more than 250,000 people dead since it erupted in 2011, following a government crackdown on people protesting President Assad’s regime.
Source: Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama admitted that the United
States brokered a power transition deal in Ukraine that has led to the current crisis in
Commenting on the situation in Ukraine in an interview with CNN, Obama said, “We
had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine” since Russian President Vladimir
Putin “made this decision around Crimea and Ukraine.”
The US president also rejected the possibility of a military conflict with Russia, saying
it would not be “wise for the United States or the world to see an actual military
conflict between the United States and Russia.”
Obama, however, reiterated that Washington would continue to put pressure on
Moscow and reinforce NATO member states bordering Ukraine.
“What we are doing is reinforcing those border states who are members of NATO,”
Obama said, adding “that line is one that cannot be crossed because we would have
to take military action to protect our allies.”
Obama has already asked Congress for $1 billion in additional spending to bolster the
US military presence in Poland and its neighbors.
Source: Al Manar TV News
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 KIEV—NATO warned on Tuesday that Russia has launched a “very
serious” military build-up inside Ukraine and on their shared border, deploying troops
and sophisticated equipment including air defense systems.
Troops, artillery and “very modern” air defense weapons could be seen “both inside of
Ukraine and also on the Russian side of the border,” NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said
as he arrived for a meeting with European Union defense ministers.
“It is a very serious build-up,” Stoltenberg said, urging Russia to reverse course and
meet its commitments under a September ceasefire and peace plan signed by Kiev
“Russia has a choice. Russia can either be part of a peaceful negotiated solution or
Russia can continue on a path of isolation,” Stoltenberg said.
“The international community calls on Russia to be part of the solution.”
But for the moment “we see that Russia is still destabilizing Ukraine. We see
movement of troops, tanks, artillery, air defense systems in violation of the
ceasefire,” the former Norwegian premier said.
Stoltenberg took office in October with the Ukraine crisis top of his agenda as the
US-led military alliance beefed up its readiness in response to the latest developments
He is visiting the Baltic states later this week.
Source: Al Manar TV News
Newscast Media BEIJING—President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir
Putin had what a senior U.S. official described as a “brief encounter” on the sidelines
of the APEC summit in Beijing.
Reports on November 10 cited the unnamed U.S. official as saying Obama and Putin
“didn’t have time to cover issues” during their short meeting.
The two leaders have been deeply at odds over Russia’s role in the Ukraine conflict
and the Kremlin’s support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
Russian news agency Interfax reported on the encounter, saying, “The U.S. president
was the first to greet Putin. Putin greeted Obama in return and the two presidents
Interfax said the conversation lasted five minutes.
Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said he had no information about the meeting.
Source: Radio Free Europe
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin said that relations
between the United States and Russia are not in good shape, but Russia is ready for
constructive dialogue on equal terms.
“We have always tried to be predictable partners, handle business on an equal basis,
but in return our legal interests were partially ignored and are still ignored,” Putin said
during a meeting with Russian ambassadors and permanent representatives.
Putin said that Russian and US contacts have a great meaning for the entire world.
“We are ready for constructive dialogue, but, again I emphasize, only on equal terms,
” the Russian president said.
Relations between Moscow and Washington soured as tensions in crisis-torn Ukraine
started to escalate.
The March 16 referendum in Crimea that resulted in the republic’s reunification with
Russia was denounced as illegitimate by Washington, and led to a series of US
sanctions against a number of Russian individuals and companies. Washington has
also repeatedly threatened Moscow with tougher economic sanctions.
The restrictive measures were condemned by Russia as counterproductive.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev suggested in May that US President Barack
Obama should show more political tact in easing the relations crisis with Russia, as
the current American policy is nullifying everything achieved over the past few years
of the “reset” and is leading to a new “cold war.”
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia’s President Vladimir Putin declared Wednesday he
was ready for dialogue with his US counterpart Barack Obama.
“I have no reason to think that Obama doesn’t want to meet with the president of
Russia. But it’s up to him after all. I am always open for talks,” Putin said in an
interview with France’s TF1 channel and Europe1 radio station.
US Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes said
earlier he didn’t rule out that the two leaders could meet on the sidelines of a
celebration hosted in Normandy, France, for the D-Day 70th anniversary, although he
said no official plans had been made.
“We don’t have any plans for a bilateral meeting with President Putin, so we’re not
anticipating the two leaders will have any type of formal meeting,” he said, adding
the two would certainly have “cause to interact in that context.”
At the same time, Putin has criticized the United States over its aggressive foreign
policies. He stressed Russia had “hardly any military contingents abroad,” while US
bases were set up far and wide across the globe.
“American troops are stationed a thousand kilometers away from their own borders,”
Earlier it was reported that Putin would attend the 70th anniversary of the D-Day
landings in France. This will be first visit of the Russian president to Western Europe
since the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis. France invited Putin to take part in the
event several months ago and confirmed the invitation despite the disagreements on
In 1944, the Normandy landings opened the Western Front in the World War II, which
left the Nazis caught between the allied US, British and European troops and the
Soviet Army advancing from the East.
Source: Ria Novosti
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 MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating has
reached 80 percent, with a majority of Russians saying the country is heading in the
right direction, an independent pollster said Wednesday.
A poll by the Levada Center said public support for the Russian leader rose by 8
percent since Putin delivered an address to parliament on Crimea before the
predominantly Russian-speaking region rejoined Russia last week.
Levada said Putin’s approval rating peaked at 85 percent in spring 2008, when Dmitry
Medvedev, now prime minister, succeeded him as president.
Another poll by Levada last week said a majority of Russians believe their country is a
great power and an important player in the international arena.
Some 63 percent of respondents said modern Russia has regained the status of a
superpower, the highest level in the history of the poll, conducted by the Levada
Center since the 2000s.
Putin was named International Person of the Year by Britain’s The Times newspaper in
December, for succeeding in his ambition of reestablishing Moscow as a critical player
in solving international problems.
According to the poll released Wednesday, only 18 percent of respondents did not
approve of Putin’s performance as president.
The survey was conducted March 21-24 among 1,600 respondents across 130 cities
in Russia. The statistical margin of error was 3.4 percent.
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to
recognize Ukraine’s breakaway region of Crimea as an independent state, the Kremlin
press service said on Monday.
Russia also said that it recognizes Sevastopol, a Crimean port that houses the
Russian Black Sea fleet base, a city with a “special autonomous status” within the
Republic of Crimea.
The decree comes into full force immediately after being signed.
Crimea, the autonomous republic within Ukraine, has refused to recognize as
legitimate the new leadership in the country. A referendum held Sunday in the largely
Russian-ethnic autonomous republic saw over 96 percent of voters support
reunification with Russia.
On Tuesday, Putin will address an assembly of both houses of parliament, as well as
heads of regions and representatives of public organizations about Crimea’s
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—As the Republicans have set the stage to sweep the
November mid-term elections, and expert predictions point to reclaiming the White
House in the 2016 presidential election, Barack Obama’s popularity and approval
ratings continue to drop nationwide.
According to the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, Americans surveyed said
they were less inclined to support a candidate if the person had been endorsed by
Mr. Obama or was a “solid supporter” of his administration. Approval of Mr. Obama is
particularly weak in the South and Midwest, regions where Democrats could have a
tough time defending Senate seats. CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>
Newscast Media SEVASTOPOL—Pro-Russia lawmakers in the parliament of Crimea,
which is now occupied by Russian forces, have approved a declaration on the
republic’s independence—a precursor to a referendum on the region becoming part of
The lawmakers announced that the March 11 adoption of the declaration is a
technical step ahead of a referendum on March 16 that will ask voters whether
Crimea should join Russia.
“If Crimean residents vote for the accession of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to
Russia as a constituent entity, Crimea will be declared an independent republic after
the referendum,” the declaration says.
Seventy-eight of the 81 lawmakers present voted in favor of the declaration.
Source: Radio Free Europe
Newscast Media MOSCOW—While the West was obsessed and making noise about
homosexual rights, Russia was creeping into Crimea, and took control of two airports.
Its special forces with unmarked uniforms entered the Crimean parliament as it was
still in session, and overnight, the Russians had infiltrated and occupied Crimea.
Almost 97 percent of Crimeans speak Russian, and have ties to their motherland,
therefore it came as no surprise to see Russian flags flying at the airports and on the
Crimean parliament building. The airports that are under Russian control are
Sevastopol and Simferporol. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia is taking additional steps to ensure security at its
naval facilities on the Crimean Peninsula amid the growing political unrest in Ukraine,
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday.
“We are carefully monitoring the situation in Ukraine and around the Black Sea Fleet,”
Shoigu told reporters in Moscow.
“We are taking measures to ensure security of the fleet’s facilities, infrastructure and
arsenals,” he said without specifying such measures.
A Russian military source said earlier on Wednesday that security check points at
several Black Sea Fleet facilities had been strengthened with armored vehicles.
Shoigu’s statement follows reports of scuffles that broke out Wednesday in the
southern Ukrainian city of Simferopol as large crowds of opponents of the newly
installed national authorities faced off against representatives of the Crimean Tatar
community outside the local parliament.
Until Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954 transferred Crimea to what was then the
Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, the territory was officially a part of Russia.
The Black Sea Fleet maintains its main base in the port of Sevastopol and several
auxiliary naval installations around the peninsula.
During the tenure of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, which began in early 2010
and ended with his ouster on Saturday, the country renewed Russia’s lease on the
naval facilities in Crimea until 2042.
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media MOSCOW—While the UN is busy trying to resolve the Ukraine crisis
through peaceful dialogue, a leaked phone call that was posted on Youtube indicates
that behind the scenes, Washington is a major player in the chess game.
This crisis is as a result of Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych’s decision to reject
a partnership agreement with the European Union, and instead accept aid from Russia
to solidify Ukraine’s relationship with its long-time neighbor. The EU had hoped to lure
Ukraine by offering it a path to membership within the bloc, but Putin advised
Yanukovych not to fall into the trap. CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>
Newscast Media VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis had a private meeting in the Vatican on
Monday afternoon with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. It’s the
fourth time the Russian leader has been here to the Vatican – he met twice with Pope
John Paul II in 2000 and 2003 and had an audience with Pope Benedict in 2007.
In September this year, Pope Francis also wrote directly to President Putin, as the
city of St Petersburg prepared to host the G20 summit of world economic leaders.
CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Source: The Vatican
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that being
labeled the world’s most powerful person by Forbes magazine this year has made him
“more cautious,” his first-ever public comment on the issue.
“I appreciate Forbes experts’ opinion, but I personally believe that, first, it always
makes you cautious because it limits you a little bit – it can limit you – let’s say, in
making decisions,” Putin said in an interview with South Korea’s KBS broadcaster
ahead of a visit to Seoul.
“I prefer to pay less attention to such things,” he said, according to an
English-language transcript provided by the Kremlin press office. “If you pay too much
attention to that, it is going to influence the decision-making process. And this would
be most regrettable.”
In October, Putin was promoted to the top spot of the Forbes’ most powerful people
list from third place in 2012. The Russian leader this year was followed by US
President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Source: RIA Novosti
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed
Thursday that after weeks of negotiations a deal had been struck with the United
States on a resolution regarding Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.
“We reached an understanding with the United States on a draft resolution,” Lavrov
told reporters at the Security Council.
He gave no details on the contents of the draft agreement.
The US and Russia are expected to submit the resolution to the full 15-member
Security Council. A meeting in New York has been called for 8 p.m. local time.
The resolution has the potential to become the first to be passed by the Security
Council since the Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011.
Source: Radio Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media NEW YORK—Former President Bill Clinton offered some rare words of praise Wednesday from a US politician about Vladimir Putin, describing the Russian president as “very smart, brutally blunt” and true to his word.
“Mr. Putin … he’s very smart,” Clinton said in an interview with CNN talk show host Piers Morgan. “And, remarkably, we had a good, blunt relationship.” Asked to describe just how blunt that relationship was, Clinton replied: “Brutally blunt,” indicating he preferred this level of frankness in private conversations.
Putin took over as acting Russian president on January 1, 2000 following the surprise New Year’s Eve resignation of the late Russian leader Boris Yelstin, and was formally elected for his first term two months later. Clinton, who left office in January 2001, worked with him as head of state for a year.
Asked if Putin ever reneged on a promise, Clinton was categorical: “He did not.”
“He kept his word on all the deals we made,” Clinton said.
Broadcast of the interview came as some US officials publicly question whether the United States should trust Putin – both the man and his administration – enough to invest fully in a new Russia-US push to destroy chemical weapons in Syria and sponsor negotiations to end the two-year conflict there.
The joint effort staved off what appeared to be imminent US military action in Syria earlier this month, but many US politicians have voiced skepticism on whether it will bear fruit.
“We do have to believe it” will help, Clinton said of the latest Russian-US effort. “We just have to see what happens and make the most of what happens,” he said, adding that “it would be a terrible mistake” not to explore viable opportunities for resolving the Syrian crisis peacefully.
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media NEW YORK—Russia’s President Vladmir Putin has gone through extra lengths to prevent World War III from happening, and late Wednesday penned an op-ed in the New York Times, making his case directly to the American people. The article has been well-received by Americans who now view Putin as the peacemaker and statesman, while politicians are fuming because the article is awakening the
American public. Putin insists that any military action should be approved by the United Nations.
“The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades,” Putin wrote.
“No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization,” he added.
Putin then points out that outside interference by other countries is unnecessary because the conflict within Syria is not a battle for Democracy but, several little factions battling each other and the government for their own personal agendas. “Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government,” Putin writes.
The White House shrugged off the article but an unnamed White House official said, “The world will note whether Russia can follow through on that commitment,” according to Politico.
Meanwhile, other officials were more harsh because Putin took his message directly to the American people. “It’s pretty clear the whole purpose of that was to try to weaken our resolve and to try to make sure that we would not fulfill our pledge to conduct military action if we have to,” former US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief Leon Panetta told NBC on Thursday morning. “So I think he was trying to, in his own way, weaken the United States in the effort to negotiate these issues.”
Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey also voiced his opinion about the article. “I worry when someone who came up through the KGB tells us what is in our national interests, and what is not,” Menendez said. “It really raises the question of how serious the Russian proposal is.”
Despite the objections of politicians who are only interested in starting new unjustified wars, Putin is showing leadership by his numerous efforts to contain the crisis. Putin’s article is characteristic of a person who is using critical thinking, while all pro-war politicians give the impression that they are driven and blinded by emotion, rather than logic and reason.
They display the tendencies of an attorney who neglects to do discovery, take depositions or interview anyone on the opposing side, yet falsely believes he or she is ready for prime time, thus jeopardizing the client’s chance of getting a fair trial.
Putin on the other hand, comes across a a master chess player who thinks five moves ahead of the game.