Posts Tagged ‘Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’

Ukraine leader slams Russia over arms given to rebels

July 24, 2017


© AFP/File | Ukrainian servicemen talk in the streets of Avdiivka, Donetsk region, on February 5, 2017

KIEV (AFP) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday demanded Russia’s Vladimir Putin halt arms supplies to rebels as the leaders of France and Germany tried to revive a peace plan.After a spike in violence, the four leaders discussed the Ukraine crisis for two hours by telephone in the latest round of talks aimed at stilling a conflict that has killed 10,000 people since April 2014.

The conversation was the first to involve French President Emmanuel Macron since he came to power in May, becoming the main international moderator on the crisis along with Germany’s Angela Merkel.

Last week saw some of the costliest clashes in months between Russian-backed rebels and government troops, after an insurgent leader announced plans to form a new “state” to replace Ukraine.

Poroshenko called the last days of July some of the bloodiest in 2017 and urged Russia “to immediately cease aggressive actions and supply of weapons to the occupied territories,” Ukraine’s presidency said in a statement after the talks.

Kiev and its allies in the West insist the Kremlin has sent troops and arms to back up the rebels, but Moscow continues to deny evidence of its role in the conflict.

In a statement the Kremlin said Putin “laid out Russia’s approach on all the key points of the said agreement in great detail.”

A February 2015 peace plan hammered out by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in the Belarusian capital Minsk has failed to stop clashes rumbling on in east Ukraine.

And although the deal has hit a wall it is still viewed by those involved as the only way of unwinding Ukraine’s war.

Last week rebel chief Alexander Zakharchenko said he wanted to establish a new state called Malorossiya (Little Russia) on the basis of Ukraine.

While the plan immediately appeared doomed after it failed to gain traction with the Kremlin, it cast a further cloud over the peace agreement.

Ukraine wants Russia held to account over MH17 downing — “Russia has been getting away with murder.”

July 17, 2017


© AFP/File | International investigators have said the Boeing airliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was blown out of the sky over conflict-wracked east Ukraine on July 17, 2014 by a Buk missile system brought in from Russia

KIEV (AFP) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday insisted Russia must be held to account over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, three years on from the tragedy that killed 298 people.

International investigators have said the Boeing airliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was blown out of the sky over conflict-wracked east Ukraine on July 17, 2014 by a Buk missile system brought in from Russia and fired from territory held by Moscow-backed rebels.

The probe being led by The Netherlands — which suffered the majority of losses — is focusing on some 100 people suspected of having played an “active role” in the incident, but the investigators have not publicly named any suspects.

The West and Kiev are adamant that all the evidence points to the insurgents and Moscow.

Russia and the separatist authorities it supports, however, continue to deny any involvement and have sought repeatedly to deflect the blame onto Ukraine.

“It was a barefaced crime that could have been avoided if not for the Russian aggression, Russian system and Russian missile that came from Russian territory,” Poroshenko wrote on Facebook.

“Our responsibility before the dead and before future generations is to show to the aggressor terrorists that responsibility is unavoidable for all the crimes committed.”

Officials announced this month that the trials of any suspects arrested over the shooting down of MH17 will be held in the Netherlands.

The countries leading the joint investigation — Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, The Netherlands and Ukraine — agreed that any trials will be carried out within the Dutch legal system.

Poroshenko said that he was “convinced that the objectivity and impartiality of Dutch justice will complete this path.”

“It is our shared duty in the face of the memory of those whose beating hearts were stopped exactly three years ago by a Russian missile,” he wrote.

No official events are planned in Kiev to mark the third anniversary but local residents are expected to gather for a small religious ceremony at the crash site in rebel-held territory.

Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a bitter feud since Moscow seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014 after the ouster of a Kremlin-backed leader by pro-Western protesters in Kiev.

Moscow was then accused of masterminding and fueling a separatist conflict in two other eastern regions that has cost the lives of some 10,000 people in over three years.

Russia insists it has not sent troops and weapons to fight in Ukraine despite overwhelming evidence that Moscow has essentially been involved in an undeclared war.

Top US diplomat calls on Russia to ‘de-escalate’ Ukraine conflict

July 9, 2017


© AFP | Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (left) welcomes US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Kiev on July 9, 2017

KIEV (AFP) – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged Russia on Sunday to take action to ease the bloody separatist conflict in the country’s east, which Kiev and the West believe is being fuelled by Moscow.

“It is necessary for Russia to take the first step to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine,” Tillerson said as he made his first visit as Washington’s top diplomat to Kiev.

“We are disappointed by the lack of progress under the Minsk agreement,” he added at a joint briefing with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko after they held talks.

“We do call on Russia to honour its commitments,” Tillerson said, referring to a peace deal aimed at halting the conflict between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed rebels.

More than 10,000 people have been killed since the pro-Russian insurgency began in April 2014, which Kiev and the West accuse Moscow of orchestrating.

The US and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia, though Moscow has denied backing the rebels.

Efforts to secure a peace deal have foundered as the fighting has dragged on, and neither side appears prepared to make concessions.

Tillerson’s visit to Ukraine followed a first face-to-face meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Friday at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

The conflict as well as Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 have pushed ties between Moscow and the West to their lowest point since the Cold War.

Russia cancels US meeting over Ukraine sanctions

June 21, 2017


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.


by Dave Clark

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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

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)


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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)


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.

Ukraine rebels roll out banned tanks on WWII Victory Day

May 9, 2017


© AFP / by Yulia SILINA and Olexander SAVOCHENKO in Kiev | Pro-Russian separatist forces take part in a rehearsal of the Victory Day parade in Donetsk, on May 3, 2017

DONETSK (UKRAINE) (AFP) – More than 10,000 people waving Russian flags and carrying portraits of Stalin watched tanks roll through Ukraine’s de facto rebel capital Donetsk on Tuesday in celebration of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany.

The display of military might used by the Moscow-backed insurgents in their three-year conflict against government forces violated the terms of a long-ignored 2015 peace deal.

Donetsk straddles a demarcation line in the industrial east of Ukraine from which both sides’ big guns were meant to have been withdrawn almost two years ago.

An AFP reporter counted 45 pieces of heavy military equipment — ranging from a lone World War II-era tank to its modern versions used in the current war as well as rocket launchers and anti-aircraft guns — roll through the city’s main street.

Donetsk separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko led a march of about 1,000 fighters who held up a long banner painted the black and orange colours of Russia’s patriotic Saint George’s ribbon.

Others in the parade carried portraits of warlords killed in Europe’s only war, in which more than 10,000 people have died.

Zakharchenko told the crowd that May 9 “is the holiest day for us all”.

On the other side of the frontline Ukrainian authorities have joined European nations in marking the end of World War II on May 8 after its 2014 pro-EU revolution.

The decision was meant to underscore Ukraine’s split with Russia and embrace of the West.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told a group of soldiers on Tuesday that “we will no longer celebrate this holiday along the Russian scenario.”

But several hundred people carrying photographs of relatives who fought in what the Soviet Union called “The Great Patriotic War” still marched through Kiev on Tuesday.

They were confronted by a small group of nationalists who pelted them with several smoke bombs before being restrained by the police.

The atmosphere was calmer on Donetsk’s central Lenin Square.

Entire families watched the hardware roll by and cheered. Some parents dressed up their children in military fatigues.

Lenin Square itself was adorned by a 1960s L-29 Delfin military jet trainer used during the Cold War by nations in central and eastern Europe that were under the Kremlin’s thumb.

A young student came to the rebel parade with a Russian Saint George’s ribbon pinned to his shirt and a bouquet of flowers.

“I want to see the day when, at the end of our own war, we also get a chance to celebrate Victory Day,” the 20-year-old told AFP.

“Our war is almost as long as the Great Patriotic War. It is time to finish it already.”

by Yulia SILINA and Olexander SAVOCHENKO in Kiev

Russia’s largest bank pulls out of Ukraine

March 28, 2017


© AFP | Activists blocking access to the offices of Sberbank helped push the Russian bank out of Ukraine

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia’s Sberbank, the largest in the country, on Tuesday announced it had sold its Ukraine division, where operations have been complicated since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.

Sberbank, whose controlling stake is owned by the Russian state, said in a statement Tuesday that it had signed a deal with a “consortium of investors” including Latvia’s Norvik Banka and a Belarusian private company.

“The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2017,” the statement said.

The bank has faced difficulties since 2014, when Moscow annexed Crimea while pro-Russian separatists declared independence in parts of eastern Ukraine, sparking a conflict that has killed thousands.

Ukrainian activists have viewed Sberbank as a symbol of Russia’s unwelcome presence in the country, with many incidents of vandalism over the past three years.

On March 16, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko slapped one-year sanctions on a number of Russian state-owned banks in the country, including Sberbank, blocking them from taking money out of the country.

As part of a campaign to strip Russian banks of licenses to operate in Ukraine, Ukrainian activists earlier this month completely mured the entrance to one of Sberbank’s branches in Kiev with bricks and mortar.

“We hope that the decision… will help to unblock its offices and to renew normal work,” the Sberbank statement said.

Ukrainian media reported that activists have already started to take down bricks they had used to block the entrance to the bank.


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Russia’s Sberbank selling its Ukrainian subsidiary

By bne IntelliNews March 28, 2017

Russia’s largest bank Sberbank is selling its subsidiary in Ukraine to a consortium of investors that includes Latvia’s Norvik Bank and a private Belarusian company, Sberbank said in a statement on March 27.

The move follows the imposition by Ukraine of sanctions on Sberbank and four other state-owned Russian banks operating in the country, and recent blockages and vandalism of the bank’s property as relations deteriorated between Kyiv and Moscow.

Norvik Bank confirmed in a separate statement that it and its main shareholder Grigory Guselnikov had signed an agreement on joining the investment consortium. The majority owner of the consortium will be Said Gutseriev and his Belarusian company, Norvik Bank added. Said Gutseriyev is the son of Russian billionaire Mikhail Gutseriev, who co-owns the Russneft oil company.

“Sberbank PJSC (Ukraine) has all the necessary means to fulfill its liabilities to private and corporate clients. We hope that the decision to sell our subsidiary bank will help to unblock its offices and to renew its normal work,” Sberbank said.

The bank did not reveal the price of the deal, which is expected to close in the first half of 2017 after receiving approval by financial and antimonopoly regulators, including in Latvia and Ukraine, according to the statement.

Loss of investments due to the bank’s quick sale will be reflected in the financial results of Sberbank PJSC under Russian accounting standards (RAS), Sberbank said. However, “the effect of the deal on the consolidated IFRS results of Sberbank Group will not be material”, it added.

Sberbank CEO German Gref said a few days earlier that the bank was looking “very actively” at options for a quick withdrawal from Ukraine and that its loan-loss provisions in Ukraine made up around 70% of its potential losses.

Sberbank’s exit from Ukraine comes after Ukrainian sanctions against local operations of Russian state-owned lenders took effect on March 23. The measures were imposed by the government in Kyiv in response to the lender’s recognition of documents issued by rebel-controlled parts of East Ukraine.

The sanctions also apply to four other banks with a Russian state share, VS Bank, Prominvestbank, VTB Bank and BM Bank, which between them have 8.6% of the Ukrainian market.

The National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) simultaneously asked the country’s law enforcers to ensure that Russian banks can leave the Ukrainian market “in a civilised way” as the sanctions took force and following a number of physical attacks on bank offices.

The deputy governor of the NBU, Kateryna Rozhkova, also highlighted the need to protect more than 1.7mn Ukrainian depositors who entrusted more than UAH21bn (€719mn) to the banking system and had been denied access to these funds because of attacks carried out by “aggressively-minded groups of people”.

Ukraine says ‘state terrorism’ by Moscow behind murder of Russian ex-MP

March 23, 2017


© AFP | Ukrainian police inspect the body of Denis Voronenkov after the former Russian lawmaker was shot dead in Kiev, on March 23, 2017
KIEV (AFP) – A former Russian MP wanted by Moscow for fraud was shot dead in broad daylight in the heart of the Ukrainian capital on Thursday in what Kiev branded “state terrorism.”

Kiev police chief Andriy Kryshchenko confirmed in televised comments that “the identity of the dead man has been established” as former Communist lawmaker Denis Voronenkov.

Police were weighing the possibility that Voronenkov was targeted in a contract killing “considering the identity of the victim, his activities and how the crime was carried out,” Kryshchenko said.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko blamed Russia for what he said was a “cunning murder”, saying Voronenkov’s killing was an “act of state terrorism”, his spokesman Svyatoslav Tsegolko wrote on Facebook.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov swiftly dismissed Kiev’s accusations as “absurd” in comments to Russian news agencies.

Voronenkov’s bodyguard and the gunman were both injured in the shootout and were being treated in hospital, Kryshchenko said, adding that the gunman’s identity had yet to be established.

The shooting occurred at around 11:30 am (0930 GMT) in the centre of the Ukrainian capital, police said.

Voronenkov and his wife Maria Maksakova, also a former lawmaker and a well-known opera singer, left Russia for Ukraine last year.

Voronenkov received Ukrainian citizenship in December after he testified against Ukraine’s ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in February 2014 amid pro-Western protests.

Voronenkov told Ukrainian media in February that he had repeatedly received threats from Russian security services.

Moscow and Kiev have been locked in a bitter dispute since Russia seized Crimea in March 2014, plunging ties between Moscow and the West to their lowest point since the Cold War.