Tag Archives: Putin

U.S. lawmakers send Snowden to war

Brussels 27.09.2022 American officials and Republican and Democrat lawmakers responded to the news of granting Russian citizenship to Edward Snowden by saying he should now be drafted and put on the frontline to fight against Ukraine.

State Department spokesman Ned Price told a briefing: ”Perhaps the only thing that has changed is… apparently now he may well be conscripted to fight in the reckless war in Ukraine.’

GOP Senator Lindsey Graham said: ‘Now that Edward Snowden has been granted full Russian citizenship, I expect he will be on the battlefield in Ukraine fighting for Putin any day now. Or could it be that he will be exempt while other Russian citizens are told to fight in a war of aggression on Putin’s behalf?

President Vladimir Putin on Monday, September 26, granted Russian citizenship to U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, 39, who exposed massive surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) and was granted refuge by Moscow, while fleeing to Latin America from Hong-Kong.

Snowden, who is wanted in the U.S. on espionage charges, is one of 75 foreign nationals listed by the decree as being granted Russian citizenship.

The former NSA staffer has been living in Russia since 2013 to escape prosecution in the U.S. after sharing classified documents detailing government surveillance programs with the British newspaper, The Guardian.

He was granted permanent residency in 2020 and said at the time that he planned to apply for Russian citizenship, without renouncing his U.S. citizenship.

Russia first granted him asylum in 2014 and have refused calls to extradite him to the U.S.

Borrell on Russia major escalation

Brussels 22.09.2022 “What President Putin announced today constitutes another major escalation in the unprovoked war that he has launched against Ukraine” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, while addressing press at margins of his visit to the UN, New York.

“It looks like he is speaking in a measure of panic and desperation. Putin is doubling down a failing strategy.

“By the threat of using nuclear, he is trying to intimidate Ukraine and all countries that support Ukraine. But he will fail. He has failed and he will fail again.
Unfortunately, this latest escalation is in line with the approach taken by the Russian regime until now.

“Putin’s threat to use “all weapon resources at our disposal” – this was his sentence – implies the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. And such a threat is unacceptable.

“Threatening with nuclear weapons is a real danger to the whole world. The international community has to react in front of this threat.

“Doing it on the International Peace Day is even more cynical. Maybe it is a coincidence, but it is particularly shocking to hear such threats during the United Nations General Assembly when the world community unites to work on peace and progress.

“Russia’s Putin is demonstrating again that it completely disregards the international norms, rules and principles. Rules, principles and norms that we have all signed [up to] – Russia also – as members of the United Nations. And these rules and principles start with territorial integrity.

“The intention to annex territories occupied by force since February 2022 and to hold sham referenda will not change their legal status. They are and they will remain internationally recognised as an integral part of Ukraine. And this is not going to change by holding sham referendum.

“Now it is clear that Russia wants to destroy Ukraine by all means, violating international law and the United Nations Charter since the beginning. But now it looks like Russia’s Putin wants to destroy Ukraine. The international community gathered here in New York needs to take the full measure of what is at stake.

The [United Nations] Security Council will meet and discuss about Ukraine tomorrow in [the light of] this new scenario. I will speak on behalf of the European Union to the Security Council. I will have the great honour and responsibility of addressing the Security Council on behalf of the European Union at that critical moment.

And tonight, immediately after hearing about the words of Mr Putin, I am convening an extraordinary and ad-hoc informal meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Ministers with the purpose to agree on a common line. And the common line – I am sure – could be summarised saying that we will not be intimidated and we will continue our full support for Ukrainian sovereignty and democracy, and continue working for this war to stop as soon as possible – before going into bigger challenges, before facing bigger threats, and before the international community has to react to such threats.

Estonia indignent over Putin’s remarks

Brussels 11.06.2022 President Vladimir Putin paid tribute to Tsar Peter the Great (pictured) on the 350th anniversary of his birth, drawing a parallel between what he portrayed as their twin historic quests to win back Russian lands.

“Peter the Great waged the Great Northern War for 21 years. It would seem that he was at war with Sweden, he took something from them. He did not take anything from them, he returned (what was Russia’s),” Putin said after visiting an exhibition dedicated to the tsar.

“Peter I fought the Northern War for 21 years. It would seem that he fought with Sweden and rejected something there. He didn’t reject anything! He returned,” the head of state explained.

He noted that the fate of modern Russia also fell to “return and strengthen” its sovereignty and territories.

In 1721, the Northern War, which had lasted two decades, ended. The result was that the aspirations of the Muscovite tsars to establish themselves on the Baltic shores became a fait accompli. On August 30, 1721, in the town of Nystadt, the Swedes concluded a peace treaty with the Russians: the victories of Russian arms left little hope to win.

Sweden forever parted with Livonia, Estonia, Ingria and part of Karelia with Vyborg. Russia, on the other hand, had to return Finland to the Swedes, and also pay 2 million efimki (silver coins), or 56 tons of silver, for new territories. The money for those days and even today was huge, and in its own way they helped Sweden to improve the economic situation that had been shaken during the war. But the geopolitical losses could not be replenished.

Russian diplomat resigns over Ukraine

Brussels 24.05.2022 A veteran Russian diplomat to the United Nations Office in Geneva on Monday, May 23, said he had handed in his resignation before sending out a scathing letter to foreign colleagues inveighing against the “aggressive war unleashed” by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. Nothing was said about Boris Bondarev (pictured) further steps, if intended to return to Russia, or he asked for a political asylum in Switzerland.

The bowing out civil servant published his open letter on his LinkedIn page:
“Long overdue, but today I resign from civil service. Enough is enough.
For twenty years of my diplomatic career I have seen different turns of our foreign policy, but never have I been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 of this year. The aggressive war unleashed by Putin against Ukraine, and in fact against the entire Western world, is not only a crime against the Ukrainian people, but also, perhaps, the most serious crime against the people of Russia, with a bold letter Z crossing out all hopes and prospects for a prosperous free society in our country.

“Those who conceived this war want only one thing – to remain in power forever, live in pompous tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian Navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity. To achieve that they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes. Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have already died just for this.

“I regret to admit that over all these twenty years the level of lies and unprofessionalism in the work of the Foreign Ministry has been increasing all the time. However, in most recent years, this has become simply catastrophic. Instead of unbiased information, impartial analysis and sober forecasting, there are propaganda clichés in the spirit of Soviet newspapers of the 1930s. A system has been built that deceives itself.
Minister Lavrov is a good illustration of the degradation of this system. In 18 years, he went from a professional and educated intellectual, whom many my colleagues held in such high esteem, to a person who constantly broadcasts conflicting statements and threatens the world (that is, Russia too) with nuclear weapons!
“Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not about diplomacy. It is all about warmongering, lies and hatred. It serves interests of few, the very few people thus contributing to further isolation and degradation of my country. Russia no longer has allies, and there is no one to blame but its reckless and ill-conceived policy.
“I studied to be a diplomat and have been a diplomat for twenty years. The Ministry has become my home and family. But I simply cannot any longer share in this bloody, witless and absolutely needless ignominy”.

MEPs discuss aid to Ukraine

Strasbourg 05.04.2022 In a debate with French Minister Delegate Klinkert and President von der Leyen, MEPs said internal EU unity and solidarity is crucial now and for the future reconstruction of Ukraine.

On May 5, Wednesday, MEPs discussed the social and economic consequences for the EU of Russia’s war in Ukraine. They applauded the sixth packet of sanctions against Russia and the Ukraine recovery package, both outlined by Commission President von der Leyen. MEPs underlined the need to also support EU citizens and businesses affected by the war, calling for unity among member states. They also demanded support for countries facing the brunt of the effects of the war, whether as a consequence of their dependence on Russian gas and oil, or because of their hosting of a large number of Ukrainian refugees.

French Delegate Minister for Integration Brigitte Klinkert and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen opened the debate.

Most MEPs have underlined the need to defeat Putin but also suggested that the best way to do this was to minimise the costs faced by the EU itself.

This would allow unity to be kept among member states, cushion the effects on households and businesses, and allow the EU to better help Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction. MEPs underlined the plight of those in the EU having to choose between buying food or heating their houses and also asked the Commission to consider on a case-by-case basis whether to go ahead with new legislation that could add additional burdens on already-struggling businesses.

Wagner group founder under sanctions

Brussels 21.04.2022 Brussels 21.04.2022 EU sanctions two additional business people in relation to the illegal annexation of Crimea. The Council adopted today restrictive measures, within the existing sanctions framework, on two more individuals for their role in undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine and for benefitting from Russian decision-makers responsible for the illegal annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of eastern Ukraine.

The persons designated today are the following businessmen:

Serhiy Vitaliyovich Kurchenko, a Ukrainian national, who among other actions, took control of several large metallurgical, chemical and energy plants in the separatist-held areas with support from pro-Russia separatists. Moreover, Serhiy Kurchenko strengthened the independent power supplies of the Crimean peninsula. He also owns the largest oil depot on the Crimean Peninsula.

Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin is a prominent Russian businessman with close ties to President Putin and the Russian Ministry of Defence. He is the founder and unofficial head of the Wagner Group, a Russia-based unincorporated military entity, responsible for the deployment of Wagner Group mercenaries in Ukraine. Some of his companies have been benefitting from large public contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defence following the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia and occupation of eastern Ukraine by Russia-backed separatists.

The European Union does not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and of the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, and continues to condemn the Russian violation of international law. Moreover, the EU remains unwavering in its support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.

EU restrictive measures regarding the undermining of territorial integrity of Ukraine now apply to a total of 1093 persons and 80 entities. Those designated persons and entities are subject to an asset freeze – including a prohibition on making funds available to them – and, additionally, those persons are subject to a travel ban, which prevents them from entering or transiting through the EU.

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine grossly violates international law and is causing massive loss of life and injury to civilians. Russia is directing attacks against the civilian population and is targeting civilian objects, including hospitals, medical facilities, schools and shelters. These war crimes must stop immediately. Those responsible, and their accomplices, will be held to account in accordance with international law. The siege of Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities, and the denial of humanitarian access by Russian military forces are unacceptable. Russian forces must immediately provide for safe pathways to other parts of Ukraine, as well as humanitarian aid to be delivered to Mariupol and other besieged cities.

The European Council demands that Russia immediately stop its military aggression in the territory of Ukraine, immediately and unconditionally withdraw all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine, and fully respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence within its internationally recognised borders.

The relevant legal acts, including more details of the persons concerned, will be published in the Official Journal.

MEPs unequivocally support Ukraine

Strasbourg 06.05.2022 Debating last week’s EU Summit with Presidents Michel and von der Leyen and EU Foreign Policy Chief Borrell, MEPs united in showing solidarity and giving more help to Ukraine.

On Wednesday morning, MEPs discussed the conclusions of the European Council meeting of 24-25 March 2022, including the latest developments in the war against Ukraine. They called for further sanctions against Russia, additional support for Ukraine and for reducing the EU’s energy dependency.

European Council President Charles Michel sent a direct message to the Russian soldiers involved in war crimes, saying, “If you don’t want to be a criminal, stop fighting. Leave the battlefield”. He also mentioned the need for more sanctions: “Measures on oil and even gas will also be needed sooner or later.” On China, President Michel said, “we need to raise the awareness amongst the Chinese authorities not to support the war and not to help Russia avoid sanctions.”

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “humanity itself was killed in Bucha”, that the perpetrators must pay, and that they will be held accountable. With regard to the new package of sanctions against Russia, she said that the pressure on Putin must be further increased, to limit the Kremlin’s political and economic options. “Those sanctions will not be our last sanctions”, President von der Leyen said, stressing that “we must look into oil” and that Russia’s fossil fuel revenue stream must end.

However there were also recalcitrant remarks made by vice-President of the European Parliament Giuseppina “Pina” Picierno (Italy, S&D) rejecting the other Italian MEP the freedom of thought:
“Today the Vice-President of the #European Parliament denied my right of expression in the Chamber, attacking me for asking for an independent investigation in Ukraine in light of the UN’s denunciation of violence against civilians by the Ukrainian army. Listen to yourself” wrote an independent MEP Fransesca Dontato.

“We have to have fewer rounds of applause but more arms for Ukraine” so they can defend themselves against Russia, EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said, urging Europe to step up. Connecting energy policy with defence, he said Europe has so far spent roughly one billion euros on supporting Ukraine, the same amount the EU pays to Russia every day for its energy. “We have to reduce our energy dependence: for once, climate change and geopolitics go hand in hand,” he said.

MEPs expressed shock at the images of the massacre in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, with several calling Vladimir Putin a war criminal and demanding he be tried at an international criminal court. In parallel, many MEPs argued for more support for Ukraine, including both money and weapons.

MEPs welcomed the fifth EU sanctions package presented on 5 April, but all speakers demanded the EU go further, with several proposing an immediate oil embargo. MEPs called for a complete ban on the use by Russian banks of the SWIFT system and bringing a wider group of oligarchs under the EU’s sanctions regime.

Several speakers warned that the surge in energy prices is affecting each member state differently and some of them dramatically so. They called for assistance for member states to ease their burden.

NATO-Russia: Biden announces new sanctions

Brussels 24.03.2022 President Biden has given a press-conference after NATO and G7 Summits in Brussels touting unity in the Western response to Russia as allies worked behind the scenes to formulate their plans for the next phase of the conflict in Ukraine.

Biden said he supported ejecting Russia from G20, which is scheduled to convene in November, though other members of that grouping would have to sign on, admitting that at the moment there are some state opposing this perspective.

Biden maintained his view that direct U.S. military intervention in Ukraine would result in catastrophe and defended a sanctions regime which, according to him should bring results, if used on a wholesome and permanent basis as long as needed.
“Putin was banking on NATO being split,” Biden said in a news conference at NATO headquarters late afternoon.
“NATO has never, never been more united than it is today. Putin is getting exactly the opposite of what he intended to have as a consequence of going into Ukraine.”

During the critical day of meetings, Biden announced new measures directed at members of Russia’s Parliament – Duma – and unveiled a plan to accept as many as 100,000 refugees fleeing the violence in Ukraine, steps intended to show American resolve in confronting the crisis.

A discussion of NATO’s force posture along its eastern border was also part of the last-minute diplomatic effort. And leaders conferred on what to do if Russia deploys a chemical, biological or even nuclear weapon,the answer should be united, and decided on a consensus basis.

“The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use,” Biden said, answering a question.

As the Summit got underway Thursday morning, leaders heard a call for more help from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who addressed the gathering online. He stopped short of issuing his usual request for a no-fly zone, however he insisted Ukraine needs fighter jets, tanks and air-defence systems.

EU sanctions against Putin and Lavrov

Brussels 27.02.2022 Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine: EU imposes sanctions against President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov and adopts wide ranging individual and economic sanctions
The EU today decided to sanction Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation and Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

The Council also agreed on a further package of individual and economic measures covering also Belarus to respond to the unprovoked and unjustified military aggression carried out by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.

Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
President Putin and his government started a war against an independent, sovereign neighbouring country. The behaviour of the Russian leadership constitutes a major threat to international peace and security. Today, we are replying with the strongest possible restrictive measures. The European Union is united in its resolve, together with international partners and allies, to defend the peace order, international law and the rules based system.

Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Swiftly implementing the European Council conclusions of 24 February, the package of sanctions adopted today includes:

Individual sanctions
In addition to freezing the assets the Russian President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the EU will impose restrictive measures on the members of the National Security Council of the Russian Federation who supported Russia’s immediate recognition of the two non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine as independent entities. Sanctions will also be extended to the remaining members of the Russian State Duma, who ratified the government decision of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between the Russian Federation and the two entities.

Furthermore, the EU will also target those individuals, who facilitated the Russian military aggression from Belarus.

Economic sanctions
Financial sanctions
The package adopted today further expands the existing financial restrictions, thereby cutting Russian access to the most important capital markets. It also prohibits the listing and provision of services in relation to shares of Russian state-owned entities on EU trading venues. In addition, it introduces new measures which significantly limit the financial inflows from Russia to the EU, by prohibiting the acceptance of deposits exceeding certain values from Russian nationals or residents, the holding of accounts of Russian clients by the EU Central Securities Depositories, as well as the selling of euro-denominated securities to Russian clients.

These sanctions will target 70% of the Russian banking market, and key state-owned companies, including in the field of defence. They will increase Russia’s borrowing costs, raise inflation and gradually erode Russia’s industrial base. Additionally measures are taken to prevent the Russian elite’s fortunes from being hidden in safe havens in Europe.

Energy sector
The EU will prohibit the sale, supply, transfer or export to Russia of specific goods and technologies in oil refining, and will introduce restrictions on the provision of related services.

By introducing such export ban, the EU intends to hit the Russian oil sector, and make it impossible for Russia to upgrade its oil refineries.

Russia’s export revenues accounted for EUR 24 billion in 2019.

Transport sector
The EU introduced an export ban covering goods and technology in the aviation and space industry, as well as a prohibition on the provision of insurance and reinsurance and maintenance services related to those goods and technology. The EU will also prohibit the provision of related technical and financial assistance.

This ban on the sale of all aircrafts, spare parts and equipment to Russian airlines will degrade one of the key sectors of Russia’s economy and the country’s connectivity, as three quarters of Russia’s current commercial air fleet were built in the EU, the US and Canada.

Technology sector
The EU imposed further restrictions on exports of dual-use goods and technology, as well as restrictions on exports of certain goods and technology which might contribute to Russia’s technological enhancement of its defence and security sector.

This will include products such as semiconductors or cutting-edge technologies.

Visa policy
Diplomats, other Russian officials, and business people will no longer be able to benefit from visa facilitation provisions, which allow privileged access to the EU. This decision will not affect ordinary Russian citizens. The decision will enter into force on the day of the adoption.

The European Union condemns in the strongest possible terms the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine, as well as the involvement of Belarus in this aggression.

The European Union demands that Russia immediately ceases its military actions, unconditionally withdraws all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine and fully respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence within its internationally recognised borders. The European Council calls on Russia and Russia-backed armed formations to respect international humanitarian law and stop their disinformation campaign and cyber-attacks.

The use of force and coercion to change borders has no place in the 21st century. Tensions and conflict should be resolved exclusively through dialogue and diplomacy. The EU will continue cooperating closely with neighbours and reiterates its unwavering support for, and commitment to, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and of the Republic of Moldova. It will continue strong coordination with partners and allies, within the UN, OSCE, NATO and the G7.

The relevant legal acts, including the names of the persons concerned by restrictive measures, will be published in the Official Journal.

Background
Individual restrictive measures will apply to a total of 654 individuals and 52 entities, and include an asset freeze and a prohibition from making funds available to the listed individuals and entities. In addition, a travel ban applicable to the listed persons prevents these from entering or transiting through EU territory.

EU-Russia: swift response

Brussels 23.02.2022 EU adopts package of restrictive measures in response to Russian recognition of self-proclaimed Republics, which were areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. The Council today adopted on a package of measures to respond to the decision by the Russian Federation to proceed with the recognition of the “non-government controlled areas” of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine as independent entities, and the subsequent decision to send Russian troops into these areas in accordance with the treaties signed with the representatives of these entities. (Image above: Charles Michel, archive).

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Such decisions are illegal and unacceptable. They violate international law, Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Russia’s own international commitments and further escalate the crisis.

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
The package agreed today includes:

Targeted restrictive measures:

“Within the existing framework for the restrictive measures, the EU will extend actions to cover all the 351 members of the Russian State Duma (Lower Chamber of Parliament), who voted on 15 February in favour of the appeal to President Putin to recognise the independence of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk ”Republics”.

“Moreover targeted restrictive measures will be imposed on additional 27 high profile individuals and entities, who have played a role in undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. These include decision makers such as members of the government, who were involved in the illegal decisions; banks and business persons/oligarchs supporting financially or materially Russian operations in the Donetsk and Luhansk’s territories, or benefitting from them; senior military officers, who played a role in the invasion and destabilisation actions; and individuals responsible for leading a disinformation war against Ukraine.

“Restrictive measures include an asset freeze and a prohibition from making funds available to the listed individuals and entities. In addition, a travel ban applicable to the listed persons prevents these from entering or transiting through EU territory.

– Restrictions on economic relations with the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts

“New measures will target trade from the two non-government controlled regions to and from the EU, to ensure that those responsible clearly feel the economic consequences of their illegal and aggressive actions.

“Today’s decision will introduce in particular an import ban on goods from the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, restrictions on trade and investments related to certain economic sectors, a prohibition to supply tourism services, and an export ban for certain goods and technologies.

– Financial restrictions

“The Council decided to introduce a sectoral prohibition to finance the Russian Federation, its government and Central Bank. By restraining the ability of the Russian state and government to access the EU’s capital and financial markets and services, the EU aims to limit the financing of escalatory and aggressive policies.

“The EU urges Russia to reverse the recognition of the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, uphold its commitments, abide by international law and return to the discussions within the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group. The EU also calls on other states not to follow Russia’s illegal decision to recognise this proclaimed independence.

“The EU stands ready to swiftly adopt more wide-ranging political and economic sanctions in case of need, and reiterates its unwavering support and commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.

“The relevant legal acts, including the names of the persons concerned, will be published soon in the Official Journal.

Restrictive measures on violations of Ukraine’s territorial integrity will with today’s additional listings apply to a total of 555 individuals and 52 entities.

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