Monday, May 30, 2016

G7 Ise-Shima Leaders' Declaration about the war in Ukraine

Ukraine/Russia We stand united in our conviction that the conflict in Ukraine can only be solved by diplomatic means and in full respect for international law, especially the legal obligation to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. We reiterate our condemnation of the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russia and reaffirm our policy of its non-recognition and sanctions against those involved.
We are concerned by continued violence along the line of contact in violation of the ceasefire; we urge all sides to take concrete steps that will lead to the complete ceasefire required under the Minsk agreements. We also urge all sides to fulfill their commitments without delay with a view to holding local elections in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as soon as possible in accordance with the Minsk agreements. We emphasize our strongest support for full implementation of the Minsk agreements and the work of the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group. We expect Russia to live up to its commitments and use its influence over the separatists to meet their commitments in full. We stress the OSCE's key role in helping to deescalate the crisis, and we call upon all sides, particularly the separatists, to provide the organization’s monitors full and unfettered access throughout the conflict zone.

We recall that the duration of sanctions is clearly linked to Russia’s complete implementation of the Minsk agreements and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty. Sanctions can be rolled back when Russia meets these commitments. However, we also stand ready to take further restrictive measures in order to increase cost on Russia should its actions so require. We recognize the importance of maintaining dialogue with Russia in order to ensure it abides by the commitments it has made as well as international law and to reach a comprehensive, sustainable and peaceful solution to the crisis.
We commend and support the steps Ukraine is taking to implement comprehensive structural, governance and economic reforms and encourage Ukraine to continue and accelerate the process. We urge Ukraine to maintain and enhance the momentum in its fight against corruption and its judicial reform, including the Prosecutor General’s office. We are fully committed to providing long-term support to this end. We also commend the work of the Ukraine support group of G7 Ambassadors in Kyiv.

We reaffirm our commitment to undertake joint efforts with Ukraine to convert the Chernobyl site into a stable and environmentally safe condition, 30 years after the catastrophe....

Sunday, May 29, 2016

NATO 'Saber Strike 2016' exercise begins in the Baltic states

May 29, 2016 (UAWire) The large-scale NATO exercise Saber Strike 2016 have begun in the Baltic states, which are aimed at improving interaction between member states in a wide range on military operations. 10,000 soldiers from 13 member states and partner countries are participating in the exercise. As stated on the US Army-Europe’s website, “Saber Strike 16 features allied and partner-nation ground forces conducting live-fire, command post, and cyber/electronic warfare training, plus the integration of U.S. close-air support with multinational ground forces.
The exercises will take place from May 27th to June 13th, and will involve the redeployment of US troops from Germany to Estonia. As part of the Dragoon Ride II, approximately 1,000 US soldiers and 400 pieces of military equipment will travel to Estonia making stops in the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

General Pavel: NATO will respond to future Russian aggression in Ukraine

May 25, 2016 (UAWire) The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Petr Pavel, has said that if Russia takes any aggressive action against NATO members in the East, the Alliance will have to respond. Pavel was referencing Russia’s actions against Crimea and Ukraine.
On the 24th of May, Pavel told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that the increase of the Alliance’s military forces on its eastern flank is in direct response to Russia’s military actions towards Georgia, Ukraine and Syria. General Pavel, who represents the Czech Republic, told the radio show that “there would be no reaction from NATO if not for the increase in Russia’s offensive military actions in Georgia, Ukraine, Crimea, and Syria”. According to him, NATO, and especially its eastern-country members “feel threatened by Russia’s self-confidence and their aggression”. Pavel said that countries that share a direct border with Russia “want to have more confidence in NATO and in the Alliance’s readiness to take action”. Pavel also expressed regret that Russia sees any kind of compromise as a weakness. The NATO Military Committee is a principal military body in the Alliance. It is the main source of military advice for the civilian leadership of NATO.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Germany Says Russia Sanctions Could Be Lifted If Progress Made On Ukraine

May 27, 2016 (Reuters) Germany would back the gradual lifting of European Union sanctions against Russia if there is progress in implementing the Minsk peace agreement to end the conflict in east Ukraine, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said on Friday. “Sanctions are no end in themselves. An all or nothing approach doesn’t bring us closer to our goal,” Martin Jaeger said during a regular government news conference. Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday at the Group of Seven meeting in Japan that it was too early to talk about lifting the sanctions on Russia.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Nadiya Savchenko: Russia frees Ukraine servicewoman

May 25, 2016 (BBC News Europe) Russia has freed jailed Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who became a symbol of resistance against Moscow. "I am free," Savchenko told a crowd of reporters and politicians as she arrived in Kiev as part of a prisoner swap with two alleged Russian soldiers. She was sentenced to 22 years in jail for killing two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine, charges she denied.

The two Russians - Yevgeny Yerofeyev and Alexander Alexandrov - were earlier flown from Kiev to Moscow. Savchenko was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin before her return to Ukraine. Mr Putin said he had acted after meeting relatives of the two Russian journalists, who had asked him to show mercy to Savchenko.
In Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko pardoned the two Russian nationals. In a tweet earlier on Wednesday, Mr Poroshenko wrote: "The presidential plane with Hero of Ukraine Nadiya Savchenko has landed!" Speaking to reporters at Kiev's Boryspil airport, Savchenko was in defiant mood. "I am ready to once again give my life for Ukraine on the battlefield," she said.
At a joint news conference with President Poroshenko later on Wednesday, Savchenko thanked her family and the people of Ukraine for supporting her while she was held in Russia. "Ukraine has the right to be, and it will be!" she said, pledging to do everything she could to free all Ukrainian nationals still being kept prisoner in Russia and in parts of Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian rebels. Meanwhile, President Poroshenko - who awarded Savchenko a Hero of Ukraine star - said: "This is our common victory!" He also personally thanked German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and US President Barack Obama for supporting Ukraine.

The full article is available at

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Far-Right Ukrainian Group Stages Smoky Protest In Kyiv

May 20, 2016 With smoke bombs and drum, some 3,000 members of Ukraine’s nationalist Azov Civilian Corps marched through the capital Kyiv. In a show of force, members of the far-right group lit flares outside the parliament building. It was a warning to the Government against making any potential deal that would lead to election in separatists’ controlled territory of Eastern Ukraine.
The protesters also called for Ukraine’s borders to be fully restored. They warned that would be more protests  outside the parliament building if the government failed to heed their warnings.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Eurovision Song Contest: Ukraine's Jamala wins competition

May 15, 2016 (BBC News) Ukraine's Jamala has won this year's Eurovision Song Contest, held in Stockholm, Sweden. The country scored 534 points with its song 1944, about the deportation of Crimean Tatars under Josef Stalin. Australia finished second with 511 points, while Russia - which was the favourite going into the competition - was third with 491 points. Jamala is the first Crimean Tatar to perform at the contest and her song caused controversy because of alleged political overtones. It references the year when Stalin deported almost all of the Tatar ethnic group from its native region of Crimea in what was then the Soviet Union. The song has angered Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, as tension between the two countries grew.
President Poroshenko hailed Jamala's victory and said her performance had been "incredible". The juries from Russia and Ukraine did not award each other any points. However large numbers of the Russian public voted for the Ukrainian song, awarding it 10 points, while the Ukrainian public gave Russia's entry the maximum 12 points.
The whole article and video are available at

Monday, May 2, 2016

Orthodox Christians celebrating Easter

May 1, 2016 (UNIAN News agency) This year Orthodox Christians are celebrating Easter on May 1, they greet each other with the words: 'Christ is risen!' and the traditional response: 'Truly He is risen!' The Resurrection of Christ, in relation to the Crucifixion, constitutes the essence of the Christian Easter, which is the center of the celebrations of worship of God in the Orthodox Church. In Ukraine, Easter, which is the most important religious holiday of the year, is known as Velykden (The Great Day) and always takes place on Sunday. Special Easter services are held in c hurches across the country. On Saturday night, Orthodox Christians go to church for the Easter service which lasts until morning. In the morning, priests bless the food baskets brought by believers.

Traditionally, many families celebrate the day with a special Easter meal consisting of the Paskha, or Paska (a type of Easter bread), and eggs colored mainly in red. Red is believed to represent the blood of Christ. The Paska is a baked cake decorated with glaze and sprinkles. The Ukrainian traditions say that one must necessarily eat at least one piece of it. The egg tapping game, or egg knocking, is also common in Ukraine.