Tag Archives: Russia

NAVALNY: EU aims at stronger russia sanctions

Brussels 21.01.2021 Following the recent imprisonment of Alexei Navalny, MEPs call on EU countries to significantly strengthen sanctions against Russia.

In a resolution, adopted with 581 votes in favour, 50 against and 44 abstentions, Parliament calls on EU member states to take an active stance on the arrest of Alexei Navalny and many of his followers at their next meetings and to “significantly strengthen the EU’s restrictive measures vis-à-vis Russia”. This includes sanctioning the “individuals and legal entities” involved in the decision to arrest and imprison Alexei Navalny, they say.

Sanctions should also be imposed against Russian oligarchs linked to the regime, members of President Putin’s inner circle and Russian media propagandists, who possess assets in the EU and can currently travel there. Additional restrictive measures could also be taken under the new EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime.

Following years of deteriorating relations, MEPs stress the importance of critically reviewing cooperation with Russia in various foreign policy platforms and on projects such as Nord Stream 2. They call on the EU to immediately stop the completion of the controversial pipeline. MEPs also underline that the EU should no longer be a welcoming place for Russian wealth of unclear origin.

With a view to the new administration in Washington, Parliament stresses that the EU should use this momentum to strengthen transatlantic unity in protecting democracy and fundamental values against authoritarian regimes.

The resolution finally demands the immediate and unconditional release of Alexei Navalny and of all other persons detained in relation to his return to Russia, be they journalists, members of his team or citizens showing support.

NATO2030: Foreign ministers focus on future

Brussels 01.12.2020 NATO Foreign Ministers met virtually on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 to discuss key issues for the Alliance. They include an outside expert panel report on how to further adapt NATO for the future, Russia’s military build-up and NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan.

“We have just concluded the first session of this meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers. We had a good, constructive exchange. And I am looking forward to when I can once again welcome all the ministers here in Brussels, in person. We discussed NATO2030 and how to further adapt our Alliance for the future. We also addressed Russia. And the situation in Afghanistan.

NATO supports the Afghan peace process. And as part of that, we have adjusted our presence. While United States has decided to further reduce its troop numbers to 2,500, NATO’s training mission continues. And over half of our forces are, now, non-US. Ministers made clear that all Allies remain committed to the mission. And to supporting Afghan security forces in the fight against terrorism.As we continue to assess the situation in Afghanistan, it is clear that we will face a turning point early next year.

If we stay, we risk continued fighting. And an even longer-term engagement.
If we leave, we risk Afghanistan once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists. And the loss of the gains made with such sacrifice.

So there is a price for staying longer. But there is also a price for leaving too soon. We will have to take some hard decisions when NATO defence ministers meet next February. But whatever we decide, we must do it in a coordinated and orderly way.

We also discussed Russia’s continued military build-up in our neighbourhood. As well as arms control. We see Russia violating and undermining treaties. And deploying new weapons. Ministers expressed support for preserving limitations of nuclear weapons. And for developing a more comprehensive arms control regime. We all know that the New START treaty will expire next February, so time is running out. We welcome the dialogue between the United States and Russia to find a way forward. Because we should not find ourselves in a situation where there is no agreement regulating the number of nuclear warheads. We are adapting NATO’s deterrence posture to address Russia’s destabilising actions. At the same time, we all agree that we must continue to pursue dialogue with Russia.

We also addressed the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. Working together here at NATO, we recently developed a military de-confliction mechanism between Greece and Turkey. A hotline between the two Allies. And the cancellation of specific military exercises. I am committed to strengthening this mechanism further, to build more comprehensive confidence-building measures.

We also discussed the NATO2030 project on how we can make our strong Alliance even stronger. Earlier this year, I appointed a group of experts to support my work on NATO’s continued adaptation. The group, led by co-chairs Thomas de Maizière and Wess Mitchell, has now finalised its work. Today the co-chairs briefed Ministers on their findings. And we have just made their report public. I want to thank all the members of the group for their efforts and dedication.

Their report shows that NATO is agile. It recognises that in recent years we have been able to adapt, both militarily and politically. The report also demonstrates that political consultation and decision-making work at NATO. So we build on solid foundations. he group’s work concludes today, and is one input into NATO2030.

I will continue to consult with civil society, parliamentarians, young leaders, the private sector, and of course with Allies. I will then prepare my recommendations for NATO Leaders when they meet next year. The goal is to keep NATO as a strong military Alliance. Make it more united politically. And with a more global approach”

“Donors have pledged more than $ 3 billion for the first year of the upcoming four-year plan,” running from 2021 to 2024, “with annual pledges expected to remain at that same level year after year, this is expected to add up to $ 12 billion dollars over four years, ” Ville Skinnari, Finnish Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade said. Afghanistan will receive up to $ 12 billion in aid from donor countries by 2024, under certain conditions, the Finnish Minister of Cooperation said on Tuesday after a two-day conference in Geneva and by video conference on November 24.

Bardot defends N.Karabakh animals

Brussels,1.12.2020 Legendary French animal welfare defendant Brigitte Bardot, President of the Foundation bearing her name, addressed an open letter to the attention of the Presidents of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, regarding the dramatic situation of the abandoned animals of Nagorno-Karabakh. The thousands of abandoned animals of Nagorno-Karabakh were left behind after the military operations in disputed territory led to the massive exodus of Armenians.
In her letter Mme Bardot has drawn the attention of Presidents to the situation in the region, where the animal welfare activists were eager to come to rescue thousands of animals, mainly dogs and cats, but they are kept away from dangerous areas by the military, who conduct necessary works to remove munition, and explosives. The abandoned cats, dogs, and other domestic animals who suffer without care, deprived of water and of food, doomed to die painful death.

The animal welfare activists report about tens of thousands of abandoned animals, dying in absence of food and water. There are mutes of dogs, who are looking for food in vain in deserted villages in the regions around Nagorno-Karabakh. The only solution for the problem, is the inclusion of care for the abandoned animals into humanitarian missions, conducted by the Russian peacekeepers, and Azerbaijan regular army.

“Open letter to the attention of the Presidents
of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

Dear Presidents,

I appeal to you not to forget about the abandoned animals of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The activists are eager to rescue them, but they are being kept away from the dangerous areas where military experts are working, and where there are thousands of dogs, cats and other abandoned domestic animals who are suffering without care, deprived of water and food.

Confronted with such a situation which could go on for some time and leave no chance of survival for the animals, I call you to include the caretaking of the abandoned animals in the humanitarian missions.

This dramatic situation of suffering of animals abandoned by people, mainly dogs and cats who have been our most faithful companions since the dawn of time, is a matter of great concern but trust in your good will to provide an exceptional aid during this transitional period after the entry into force of the ceasefire agreement inspires the hope that I place in you.
Caring for animals suffering along with humans from the consequences of conflicts and wars can only help to heal recent and old traumas that haunt humanity and, in this particular situation, would contribute significantly to the appeasement of the Nagorno-Karabakh region by encouraging people to build a better future for all.

The humanitarian and charitable missions towards the animals of Nagorno-Karabakh carried out under your orders, dear Presidents, are among the keys to this much desired peaceful future, which animal welfare groups are ready to support.

I look forward to receiving your positive response to my urgent appeal.

Please accept, dear Presidents, the assurance of my highest consideration”.

NK: EU expect full implementation of ceasefire

Brussels 11/23/2020 The “scorched earth” strategy of Armenians leaving the Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan did not escape the attention of the European Commission.
“We take note of various information and various complaints that come from the parties in the situation regarding Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions. Since there is no direct access to the territories, it is very difficult for us to verify these statements, and therefore I will not be able to answer specific accusations that concern the situation in these territories, but what is important, is the observance of the ceasefire regime, which must be fully implemented” the spokesperson said.

The EU was very clear in its expectations, the EU diplomat added, referring to the EU Declaration 27 of November 19,
underlining the “importance of guaranteeing humanitarian access and the best possible conditions for the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of the displaced populations in and around Nagorno-Karabakh”. The preservation and restoring the cultural and religious heritage in and around Nagorno-Karabakh was also included into the Declaration, along with the demand of investigation of “any war crimes that might have been committed”.

The EU is “closely watching how the situation, regarding the ceasefire”, which was concluded with the mediation of Russia and how it is being implemented on the ground, the spokesperson continued.

The media reports on the “scorched earth” strategy used by the Armenians leaving the Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan, have caused a great deal of concern of the ecologists, who have pointed at the disaster of the forests set ablaze, and the intentional destruction of unique flora and fauna of the mountains.

The “scorched earth” strategy that is prohibited by the 1977 Geneva Conventions, being defined as “war crime”. It has been reportedly used by local inhabitants of the Kelbajar region, while they were abandoning the area. They set ablaze houses, gardens, forests, and also massively culled animals, which can subsequently lead to sanitary problems. The pictured and videos of the devastation, and fires were shown on the CBC TV Azerbaijan channel.

Armenia receives hundreds of millions from the EU in to aid programmes, but now the government in Yerevan will face the multi-million claims of Azerbaijan for the damages to nature of Kalbajar caused intentionally, since the Minister of Ecology of Azerbaijan has already begun to prepare claims to the International Court in the Hague, the Azerbaijan media reports.

 

The ‘scorched earth’ strategy is a war crime as defined in the 1977 Geneva Conventions. This barbaric strategy of destroying anything that could potentially be used by the enemy is condemned by international law, and the procedures concerning war criminals are under the jurisdiction of International Criminal Court in The Hague.
It is a permanent international criminal justice body whose competence includes the prosecution of those responsible for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, as well as military aggression. Established by the 1998 Rome Statute, the Court has officially began its work on July 1, 2002. (Image below: culled cattle left behind).

Armenia signed end of Nagorno-Karabakh war

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a statement on ending the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian leader wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

“I signed a statement with the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan on ending the Karabakh war since 01:00 (00:00 Moscow Time). The text of the published statement is inexpressibly sensitive for me personally and for our people. I made the decision after a deep analysis of the military situation and the assessment by people who know it better than anyone,” Pashinyan said, noting that he made “a very and very hard decision”.

According to Pashinyan, “this step is based on a conviction that this is the best possible solution in the current situation.” “I will speak in detail about all this in the coming days. This is not victory, but there won’t be a defeat unless you recognize yourself as a loser. We will never recognize ourselves as losers and this should usher in our era of national unification and revival,” he said.

Azerbaijan shot two Russian helicopter pilots

Azerbaijan downed Russian helicopter by mistake and is ready to compensate Moscow for the damages, the Republic’s Foreign Ministry announced. (Image: illustration).

“The helicopter was flying in the close vicinity of the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border at the time of active hostilities in the zone of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The flight was taking place after dark, at a low altitude, outside the air defence radar detection zone. Helicopters of the Russian Armed Forces had not been detected in said area previously,” the Ministry stated. According to the ministry, “in the context of the aforementioned factors and in the light of the tense situation in the region and the high military alert due to possible provocations of the Armenian side, the on-duty operational crew made the decision to use deadly force.”

EU top diplomats meet in Luxembourg

Luxembourg 12.10.2020 The meeting of Foreign ministers, chaired by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, will review recent developments and debate issues related to the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, Russia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

The EU Ministers will first be briefed by Borrell about a number of recent developments and upcoming events, including: Nagorno-Karabakh,the Kyrgyz Republic, Mozambique, the EU-Ukraine Summit, Venezuela, and the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024.
The Council will discuss the evolving situation in Belarus and follow up on the four strands of action agreed at EU level, including support to Belarusian society. Ministers will adopt new Council conclusions on Belarus which will guide the finalisation of the in-depth review of EU-Belarus relations.

Josep Borrell and the EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other Western Balkans regional issues, Miroslav Lajčák, will update the Council on the latest developments and challenges regarding the Dialogue.
Ministers will be invited to reflect on the state of EU-Russia relations within the framework of the five guiding principles, and taking account recent developments, like the Navalny case.
The Council will have a strategic discussion on EU relations with Latin America and the Caribbean, building on discussions held at the July 2020 Foreign Affairs Council about the considerable impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the region and the EU response. Ministers will also consider the potential revival of high level EU political engagement with the region.

Ministers will be informed about the Indo-Pacific region, and the Council is expected to adopt conclusions on Bosnia and Herzegovina and Operation EUFOR Althea.
Over a working lunch, ministers will have a strategic discussion on multilateralism.

Navalny: OPCW confirms Novichok

Experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that the banned nerve agent called “Novichok” was found in samples taken from poisoned Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, the U.K.’s envoy to the body via his Twitter micro blog on October 6.

“These results constitute a matter of grave concern,” OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias said in a website statement.

The finding could lead European countries to impose sanctions on Russia for violating the treaty banning the use of such weapons, German officials have underlined.

Russian journalist self-immolation protest

2.10.2020 “I ask you to blame the Russian Federation for my death” wrote journalist Irina Slavina,47, on her Facebook page. Today she committed self-immolation in front of the building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Nizhny Novgorod in protest against persecutions she has been through for last years. A man, passing by, has tried to save her from fire, but in vain.

Slavina has been persecuted for years for her publications concerning corruption, and defending ecology in city of Nizhny Novgorod. Her protest followed the day after the four hours search in her apartment, conducted with numerous breaches of law by the investigators and police, in presence of witnesses, all together 12 people stormed in at 6 AM looking for “brochures, leaflets and accounts” from the Open Russia opposition group, which is financed by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The search was the last one in a long chain of acts of persecution which lasted for years, in attempts to prevent Slavina from journalistic investigations.

The editor-in-chief of the Koza.Press edition, Irina Slavina, was searched with confiscation of personal belongings and equipment. The persecution has been initiated for alleged cooperation with an “undesirable organization”, namely “Open Russia” of Mikhail Khodordovsky. As Irina Slavina told her colleagues the security forces are convinced that “Open Russia” is funding the mass pro-ecology protests in Nizhny Novgorod.

“I was informed with a decree, though not allowed to photograph it, that a criminal case had been opened against Mikhail Ioselevich. As part of this case, my house was searched. Before the start of the search, I was asked to voluntarily hand over brochures and leaflets of Open Russia. It is clear that I could do nothing to help the investigation, since I have nothing to do with Open Russia. Then the search began, it lasted more than 4 hours. They took away all the electronic media – two laptops, and a stationary PC. They also took the phone not only from me, but also from my husband, leaving us without any means of communication at all. And they didn’t even give a copy of the protocol, they didn’t give anything at all. I was not allowed to call a lawyer, they immediately took my phone away” Slavina wrote on her Facebook.

Irina Slavina took an active part in coverage of the public discussions around protection of local park from modernisation, damaging the ecology of the area. After her tragic death people started to bring flowers and candles to the place of her self-immolation. Her husband and daughter came to the place of her suicide in the afternoon. The family has not made any public statement.
WARNING: disturbing graphic

Michel regrets EU consensus method

In his speech “European strategic autonomy is the goal of our generation” at the Bruegel think tank president of the European Council Charles Michel addressed problems of global instability, and pointed at the need to establish the EU autonomy. He also has drawn attention to a number of problems in the EU foreign policy, namely the challenges imposed by China and Russia, “unpredictability” of Mediterranean neighbourhood, and post-Brexit trade negotiations. The president also regretted the method of unanimity in the EU foreign policy decision-making process, which slows it down, and “even some times prevents the decisions”.
Michel has underlined the the EU defence should develop in strong partnership with NATO, and “deployed within” North Atlantic Alliance.

“…Because the globalised world has changed a lot since the end of the Cold War. And because an arc of instability has developed around us.

“In the East, the natural and harmless extension of the European democratic space was brutally stopped by Russia in Ukraine. Russia saw a major geopolitical danger there. This cost Ukraine part of its territory, and a war in the East which permanently destabilises the country. Although the context is different, the events in Belarus once again highlight the challenge at Europe’s eastern borders.

“In the Eastern Mediterranean, we face tensions and unpredictability. Libya and Syria are hotbeds of insecurity and instability. There is pressure on the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus. Our relationship with Turkey is under strain. This is why the next European summit will be devoted to the adoption of a European strategic position in connection with this region. I proposed the organisation of a multilateral conference on the Eastern Mediterranean, where maritime de-limitations, energy, security, migration, etc. would be discussed.

“In the South: Africa. And I feel, at the level of Europe and its leaders, how much the outlook on Africa is changing. Its energy, its vitality, open the way to an unprecedented alliance. It only depends on us, African and European leaders.

“In the West, Brexit. In the aftermath of the referendum, the result shook up the European Union. This choice of national sovereignty was felt as a failure of European construction.

“Today what is it? It is the United Kingdom that faces our quiet strength. The truth is, the British face a dilemma. What model of society do they want? Do they prefer to maintain high quality standards (health, food, environmental, etc.)? Or, on the contrary, do they want lower standards, subject their breeders and their businesses to unfair and unjust competition from other regions of the world? It is the answer to this question that will determine the level of access to our internal market”

President Michel has also regarded the principle of unanimity in the EU foreign policy, “regularly debated”:

“…Unanimity is required in matters of foreign policy. This question of unanimity is, as we know, regularly debated. And I have a qualified opinion in this regard. Of course, the unanimity requirement slows down and sometimes even prevents the decision. But this requirement leads to constant efforts to weld the Member States together. And this European unity is also our strength. Unanimity promotes the lasting adhesion of the 27 countries to the strategy deliberated together. So I ask myself: isn’t renouncing unanimity a false good idea? Are there not other more relevant reforms to act more quickly at the international level, without losing the added value of our unanimity?

“My modest experience is as follows. Very often, in recent months, I have observed that apparently important differences between the Member States were quickly blurred thanks to the substantive debate. So it was with China. The political preparations allowed us in a few months to define a common position which is now shared by all. The same will be true for the eastern Mediterranean and even Belarus. I am optimistic that there too we will express common positions which will draw their strength from our unity. The major decisions on the budget and the stimulus fund further illustrate this certainty: political confrontation, the exchange of arguments on the merits, are an essential step in the process of democratic deliberation. And they found the legitimacy of the decision.

“…Defense is not a European competence like any other. And I know the different national sensibilities. In my eyes, deepening the common defence is a necessity and is more common sense than an ideological obsession. This project must be deployed within NATO. This is the meaning of the strategic partnership between the EU and NATO. The permanent structured cooperation and the European Defense Fund, which we have just endowed with 7 billion euro, are fully in line with this ambition. And I greet Jean-Claude Juncker and Federica Mogherini, whose strategic impetus in this area has not yet been fully appreciated”.

« Older Entries