Posts Tagged ‘Putin’

Russia cancels US meeting over Ukraine sanctions

June 21, 2017

AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Russia has canceled a meeting with senior US diplomats in the wake of Washington’s decision to reinforce sanctions imposed over its interference in Ukraine and occupation of Crimea.

US Under Secretary of State Tom Shannon had been due in St Petersburg on Friday to mend diplomatic fences with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

Image result for Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, photos

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. AP photo

But relations between Moscow and Washington are at a low even by the standards of a rivalry that goes back to the Cold War, and Washington’s decision to ramp up its sanctions regime provoked the anger of President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.

Shannon had hoped to address “irritants” in the relationship, such as tension over Moscow’s intimidation of US diplomats and the US seizure of two Russian diplomatic compounds near Washington and New York.

But even this minor first step towards finding enough common ground to allow the rival nuclear powers to begin to address more fundamental issues — such as Russia’s intervention in Ukraine — has now fallen apart.

“We regret that Russia has decided to turn away from an opportunity to discuss bilateral obstacles that hinder US-Russia relations,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

On Tuesday, the United States added 38 individuals and entities to its sanctions list targeting the Russians and pro-Russian rebels it blames for the fighting in Ukraine.

This appears to have been what triggered Moscow’s decision to cancel the meeting, although US President Donald Trump also met Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko on Tuesday.

But the State Department insisted that the sanctions were not being expanded, merely “maintained,” by adding new targets as Moscow finds ways around the previous embargo.

And Washington insisted the punitive measures would stay in place until Russia honors the Minsk agreement to disengage from eastern Ukraine and returns the annexed Crimea region to Kiev.

“We have regularly updated these sanctions twice a year since they were first imposed,” Nauert explained. “Let’s remember that these sanctions didn’t just come out of nowhere.

“Our targeted sanctions were imposed in response to Russia’s ongoing violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbor, Ukraine,” she said.

– ‘Not the moment’ –

Russia’s foreign ministry said that, given the new sanctions, it was “not the moment” to hold the Shannon-Ryabkov talks, which Washington had announced on Tuesday.

And, asked whether the meeting could be rescheduled, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “I have no confirmation that these consultations will take place.”

Separately, Ryabkov himself, in a foreign ministry statement, threatened that Moscow would take retaliatory measures.

“This measure will not remain without a reaction — there will be measures in response on our behalf,” he warned.

“We regret that once again the American authorities have allowed themselves to be guided by the frenzied Russophobes in Congress, who will stop at nothing to cause us trouble, and especially to reduce to zero any chance of an improvement in Russian-American ties,” he alleged.

– Putin’s ‘best friend’? –

Ryabkov’s reference to Congress reflects a view in Moscow that Trump’s arrival in the White House might have heralded a new friendship with Putin’s Kremlin were it not for domestic US opposition.

Trump had warm words for Russia during his election campaign — and earlier, such as when he promoted the Miss Universe beauty pageant in Moscow in 2013 and tweeted that he would like to become Putin’s “best friend.”

But since coming to office, Trump has become embroiled in intrigue surrounding the alleged attempt by Moscow’s agents to swing the election in his favor by hacking the emails of his opponents and spreading online propaganda.

Trump has also appointed more orthodox national security officials, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who remain wary of Moscow and see Russia as a strategic opponent.

dc-burs/sst

by Dave Clark
.
Related:
.
.
.
.
.

Image result for Poroshenko, donald Trump, photos

President Donald Trump (right) shakes hands with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., on June 20. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Russian defense minister talks about NATO’s “anti-Russian course”

June 21, 2017

MOSCOW — Russia’s defense minister says the security situation near the nation’s borders has worsened because of NATO’s activities.

Sergei Shoigu, speaking Wednesday on a trip to Russia’s westernmost Kaliningrad region, pointed at the alliance’s exercise in the Baltics as an example of NATO’s growing presence in the area.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, screen and indoor

Sergei Shoigu

Shoigu added that the large-scale drills reflect NATO’s “anti-Russian course.”

He said the military will form 20 new units along its western frontiers by the year’s end. Later this year, Russia and Belarus will hold the West-2017 war games.

Russian state TV showed the footage of a NATO F-16 fighter jet shadowing Shoigu’s plane as it was approaching Kaliningrad. A Russian Su-27 fighter then edged in between the minister’s plane and NATO’s jet to ward it off.

Related:

Russia Beefing Up Western Flank in Response to NATO-Defence Minister

June 21, 2017

B

JUNE 21, 2017, 7:39 A.M. E.D.T.

MOSCOW — Russia is refining its defences on its western flank in response to what it regards as NATO’s aggressive actions, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday, according to Russian news agencies.

Shoigu was also quoted as saying that he regarded NATO’s military build-up along Russia’s borders as proof of the Western military alliance’s anti-Russian stance.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

Image result for Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, photos

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. | KREMLIN / SPUTNIK / ALEXEI NIKOLSKY / REUTERS — File Photo

Russia Considering Retaliatory Sanctions Against U.S.: Kremlin

June 21, 2017

MOSCOW — Moscow is considering a range of retaliatory measures in response to a planned new round of U.S. sanctions to be imposed on Moscow over its role in Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

“It goes without saying that the main principle of reacting to sanctions is reciprocity,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters.

“At our experts’ level, naturally, different variants (of Russian) sanctions are now being formulated and proposed.”

Peskov also said the Kremlin was not ruling out a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of a G-20 summit in Germany next month but “nothing concrete has so far been agreed”.

(Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Maria Kiselyova)

Related:

Image result for Poroshenko, donald Trump, photos

President Donald Trump (right) shakes hands with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., on June 20. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

U.S. Sanctions to Stay Until Russia Quits Eastern Ukraine: White House

June 20, 2017

WASHINGTON — U.S. sanctions on Russia will remain in place until Moscow withdraws from eastern Ukraine, a White House spokesman said on Tuesday.

“It’s part of the reason there are sanctions, because until they are out of eastern Ukraine, we’re going to continue to have sanctions on Russia, and we believe that is part of Ukraine, and so therefore those sanctions will remain,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a regular press briefing.

President Donald Trump met earlier on Tuesday with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in talks that the White House said were about ways to resolve peacefully the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Related:

Ukraine Leader Says Trump Voiced Strong Support for Kiev During Talks

June 20, 2017

KIEV — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he had received strong assurances of U.S. support for his country from Donald Trump during a meeting in the White House on Tuesday.

Trump has called in the past for improved U.S. ties with Russia, stoking fears in Ukraine that he might row back from past U.S. pledges of support for Poroshenko’s pro-Western administration in Kiev.

Moscow seized Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014 and has backed pro-Russian separatist rebels battling Kiev’s forces in eastern Ukraine.

“There was a full, detailed meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. We received strong support from the U.S. side, support in terms of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the independence of our state,” Poroshenko was quoted as telling journalists by Ukrainian news agency Interfax Ukraine.

(Reporting by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Gareth Jones)

**************************************

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump met with his Ukrainian counterpart in what the White House called a “drop-in” visit to the Oval Office.

President Petro Poroshenko stopped by Tuesday for a brief photo opportunity with Trump following meetings with Vice President Mike Pence and the national security team.

The president says it was a “great honor” to meet Poroshenko, and “a lot of progress has been made” in the relationship with Ukraine.

Poroshenko said he hopes the two countries can engage in “effective collaboration.”

The meeting began shortly after the Trump administration announced that has imposed sanctions on two Russian officials and three dozen other individuals and companies over Russian activities in Ukraine.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the new penalties are designed to “maintain pressure on Russia to work toward a diplomatic solution.”

In all, Tuesday’s action targets 38 individuals and firms. Any assets they have in the U.S. are now blocked. Americans are prohibited from doing business with them.

The U.S. has been punishing Russia with sanctions since its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

The Treasury Department says the new measures address people and companies who’ve sought to circumvent those sanctions.

Moscow’s envoy for overseas Russians and chairman for humanitarian assistance in separatist-held, eastern Ukraine are the Russian government officials affected.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/trump-meets-poroshenko-brief-drop-visit/

Russia To Target U.S. and Coalition Aircraft Over Syria

June 19, 2017

Russia steps up rhetoric after U.S. fighter shoots down Syrian government jet

.

June 19, 2017 10:33 a.m. ET

MOSCOW—Russia escalated tensions with the United States Monday, promising to actively track U.S. and coalition aircraft over Syria with air defense systems and warplanes, the country’s defense ministry said.

In a statement released Monday, the Russian military said it would treat U.S. and coalition operating west of the Euphrates Rivers as “aerial targets,” but stopped short of threatening a shootdown.

“In regions where the…

.

.
Related:
.
.
.
.
***********************************************
.

Russia warns US-led coalition over downing of Syrian jet

.

Defence ministry says planes flying west of Euphrates will be treated as targets and that it has suspended safety agreement with US

A US navy F/A-18 Super Hornet
The Pentagon confirmed that a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet had shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday. Photograph: US DoD handout/EPA

Russia’s defence ministry has said it will treat any plane from the US-led coalition flying west of the Euphrates river in Syria as a potential target, after the US military shot down a Syrian air force jet on Sunday.

The ministry also said it was suspending a safety agreement with Washington designed to prevent collisions and dangerous incidents in Syrian airspace.

According to the Pentagon the Syrian jet in question had dropped bombs near US partner forces involved in the fight to wrest Raqqa from Islamic State (Isis) control. It was the first such US attack on a Syrian air force plane since the start of the country’s civil war six years ago.

In an apparent attempt at deescalation, Viktor Ozerov, the chairman of the defence and security committee at the upper chamber of Russian parliament, described the defence ministry’s statement as a warning. “I’m sure that because of this neither the US nor anyone else will take any actions to threaten our aircraft,” he told the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. “That’s why there’s no threat of direct confrontation between Russia and American aircraft.”

Ozerov said Russia will be tracking the coalition’s jets, not shooting them down, but he added that “a threat for those jets may appear only if they take action that pose a threat to Russian aircraft”.

The deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said the US strike “has to be seen as a continuation of America’s line to disregard the norms of international law.

“What is this if not an act of aggression? It is, if you like, help to those terrorists that the US is fighting against, declaring they are carrying out an anti-terrorism policy.”

The Russian response increases the risk of an inadvertent air fight breaking out between US and Russian warplanes in the skies above Syria.

The US military confirmed that a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet had shot down a Syrian SU-22 on Sunday. The US said the Syrian jet had dropped bombs near Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters who are aligned with US forces in the fight against Isis. Damascus said its plane had been on anti-Isis mission.

Col John Thomas, a spokesman for US Central Command, said there were no US forces in the immediate vicinity of the Syrian attack but that the SDF was under threat for more than two hours.

The growing risk of a direct confrontation between the US and Russia follows a decision by Donald Trump to grant his military chiefs untrammelled control of US military strategy in Syria.

Tensions have also been bubbling between Washington and Moscow over efforts to dislodge Isis from its Raqqa stronghold.

Russia, a staunch supporter of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has been pressing the US to make the removal of Isis a joint land and air operation, but discussions over Syria’s long-term political future appear to have ground to a halt, leaving the US military to operate in a political vacuum.

The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters working alongside western special forces, said it would take action to defend itself from Syrian warplanes if attacks continued.

The Trump administration has promised to improve arms supplies to the SDF after it concluded that it was the force most capable of freeing Raqqa from Isis.

In a sign of how complex the Syrian peace process has become, Russian-sponsored peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, are scheduled to resume on the same day – 10 July – as talks convened by the UN in Geneva.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, announced the date on Monday in the knowledge that it would coincide with the UN schedule. He also said that the UN’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, would take part.

A spokesman for de Mistura said “the subject is currently being discussed”.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/19/russia-target-us-led-coalition-warplanes-over-syria

Russia halts US aviation cooperation over downing of Syrian jet

June 19, 2017

AFP, Reuters and The Associated Press

© Omar haj kadour, AFP | A Syrian army jet fires rockets over the village of Rahbet Khattab in Hama province on March 23, 2017.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-06-19

The Russian defence ministry said Monday that it was halting aviation cooperation with the United States after the US downed a Syrian government warplane on Sunday, a move one Russian official described as a clear “act of aggression”.

The Russian defence ministry said it was halting cooperation with Washington within the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria, effective immediately. It also accused the United States of not using the proper communication channels before shooting down the Syrian army jet.

“The command of the coalition forces did not use the established communication channel for preventing incidents in Syrian airspace,” the ministry said, adding that Moscow “ends cooperation with the American side from June 19”.

Moreover, any coalition aircraft flying to the west of the Euphrates will be treated as targets, the defence ministry said.

“Any flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, discovered west of the Euphrates river will be tracked as aerial targets by Russia’s air defences on and above ground.”

URGENT: Russian military halts Syria sky incident prevention interactions with US as of June 19 – Moscow https://on.rt.com/8f9g pic.twitter.com/w27zQsyy5y

RT

@RT_comCoalition’s airborne objects in Russian Air Force’s Syria missions areas to be tracked as targets – Moscow https://on.rt.com/8f9g  pic.twitter.com/PHqYQjI6Yo

Voir l'image sur Twitter

Russia previously suspended the memorandum of understanding on air safety in April to protest against US airstrikes launched in response to a suspected chemical attack.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, on Monday firmly condemned the United States for shooting down the Syrian plane, calling it an “act of aggression”.

“This strike has to be seen as a continuation of America’s line to disregard the norms of international law,” Ryabkov told journalists in Moscow on Monday, the TASS news agency reported. “What is this if not an act of aggression?”

Ryabkov said the Kremlin had also warned the United States not to use force against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime Moscow ally.

A Syrian jet plane

The incident marked the first time an American fighter jet had taken down a Syrian warplane, which Washington accused of attacking US-backed fighters.

The tensions come as the US-led coalition and allied fighters battle to evict the Islamic State (IS) group from its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

>> Read more: MSF says 10,000 Syrians flee Raqqa as battle for the city nears

The Syrian jet was shot down after regime forces engaged fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance battling IS jihadists with US support, in an area close to Raqqa. The American F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down the Syrian SU-22 around 7pm as it “dropped bombs near SDF fighters” south of the town of Tabqa, the coalition said in a statement.

It said that several hours earlier, regime forces had attacked the SDF in another town near Tabqa, wounding several and driving the SDF from the town.

The coalition said the Syrian warplane had been shot down “in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of Coalition partnered forces”.

Syria’s army disputed the account, saying its plane was hit while “conducting a mission against the terrorist Islamic State group”.

It warned of “the grave consequences of this flagrant aggression”.

International imbroglio

The SDF entered Raqqa for the first time earlier this month and now holds four neighbourhoods in the east and west of the city.

In a further escalation of military action in Syria, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it launched a series of missiles into Syria on Sunday in revenge for deadly attacks on its capital that were claimed by the Islamic State group. It said the missiles were “in retaliation” for a June 7 attack on the parliament complex and the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that killed 17 people.

Assad has focused his forces further east, to the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, which is largely under IS group control and where government forces are besieged in part of the provincial capital.

Outside of coalition operations, US forces have only once directly targeted the regime – when Washington launched air strikes against an airbase it said was the launchpad for an alleged chemical attack that killed more than 80 civilians in April.

The Kremlin denounced those US strikes as an “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law”.

Syria’s war began in March 2011 with anti-government protests but has since spiralled into a complex and bloody conflict that has killed more than 320,000 people and become a proxy war for regional powers as well as ensnaring the United States and Russia.

Interfax reported that Ryabkov and the US under secretary of state, Thomas Shannon, would meet in St Petersburg on June 23 to discuss persistent tensions in bilateral ties.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

***********************************************

The Syrian SU-22 fighter bomber was shot down by an American F18 Super Hornet after it had dropped bombs near the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces north of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil)-held city of Raqqa in northern Syria.

The US, which has special forces troops in the area, had earlier sent a warning to the Syrian military to stop targeting the forces and called on Russia to rein in its ally, but they were ignored.

Russia, which intervened militarily to back the Syrian regime in 2015,on Monday condemned the US action, saying it flouted international law.

“It is, if you like, help to those terrorists that the US is fighting against, declaring they are carrying out an anti-terrorism policy,” Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said, adding it was a “dangerous escalation”.

 Image may contain: airplane

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said: “It is hard for me to choose any other words but these: if you [the US] can’t help you should at least not interfere. As your ‘efforts’ once again do nothing but help the militants.

“You are fighting the wrong party: it is not the Syrian army that perpetrates terror attacks in European capital cities.”

See the whole report:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/18/us-forces-shoot-syrian-jet-first-time-move-described-self-defence/

Related:

 

Russian diplomat: U.S. downing of Syrian warplane is ‘support of terrorists’: TASS

June 19, 2017

Image may contain: airplane

Moscow sees the downing of a Syrian government warplane by the United States as an “act of aggression and support of terrorists”, TASS news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Monday.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov)

Related:

The truth is, the U.S. has communicated with Russia and Syria many times not to fly in a threatening manner in certain areas. The consequences of Syria’s Russian-supported actions are clear. Russia’s answer is more fake news and propaganda. Peace and Freedom Editor

Russia’s Lavrov calls on U.S. to respect Syria’s integrity — After U.S. Shoots Down Syrian Jet

June 19, 2017
Reuters

The United States should respect Syria’s territorial integrity and refrain from unilateral actions in this country, Russian news agencies quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Monday.

Lavrov made his remarks after a U.S. warplane shot down a Syrian army jet on Sunday in the southern Raqqa countryside, with Washington saying the jet had dropped bombs near U.S.-backed forces and Damascus saying the plane was downed while flying a mission against Islamic State militants.

Lavrov also said that a new round of peace talks on Syria in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana would tale place on July 10.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov)

**********************************

U.S. Says It Shot Down Syrian Aircraft

Move marks the first time coalition forces have struck a regime plane in the nation’s civil war

.

Updated June 18, 2017 11:01 p.m. ET

An American warplane shot down a Syrian government jet on Sunday, the Pentagon said, marking the first time in Syria’s civil war that a U.S. pilot has struck a regime plane and signaling an increased willingness by the Trump administration to directly challenge President Bashar al-Assad and his allies.

On Sunday, the U.S. military said it had shot down the Syrian SU-22 after regime forces twice attacked members of American-backed…

.

.
***************************
.

Pentagon: US shoots down Syrian aircraft for first time

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows warplanes inside the Kweiras air base, east of Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. (SANA via AP)

.

The U.S. military on Sunday shot down a Syrian Air Force fighter jet that bombed local forces aligned with the Americans in the fight against Islamic State militants, an action that appeared to mark a new escalation of the conflict.

The U.S. had not shot down a Syrian regime aircraft before Sunday’s confrontation, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. While the U.S. has said since it began recruiting, training and advising what it calls moderate Syrian opposition forces to fight IS that it would protect them from potential Syrian government retribution, this was the first time it resorted to engaging in air-to-air combat to make good on that promise.

The U.S.-led coalition headquarters in Iraq said in a written statement that a U.S. F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian government SU-22 after it dropped bombs near the U.S. partner forces, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces. The shootdown was near the Syrian town of Tabqa.

The U.S. military statement said it acted in “collective self defense” of its partner forces and that the U.S. did not seek a fight with the Syrian government or its Russian supporters.

According to a statement from the Pentagon, pro-Syrian regime forces attacked the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces-held town of Ja’Din, south of Tabqah in northern Syria, wounding a number of SDF fighters and driving the SDF from the town.

Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force and stopped the initial pro-regime advance toward the town, the Pentagon said. Following the pro-Syrian forces attack, the coalition called its Russian counterparts “to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing,” according to the statement.

A few hours later, the Syrian SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters and, “in collective self-defense of coalition-partnered forces,” was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet, the Pentagon said.

“The coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” the Pentagon said, using an abbreviation for the Islamic State group. “The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat. ”

U.S. forces tangled earlier this month with Syria-allied aircraft in the region. On June 8, U.S. officials reported that a drone likely connected to Iranian-supported Hezbollah forces fired on U.S.-backed troops and was shot down by an American fighter jet. The incident took place in southern Syria near a base where the U.S.-led coalition was training Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State group.

An Army spokesman at the Pentagon said at the time that the drone carried more weapons and was considered a direct threat, prompting the shootdown.

___

Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.