Crimea: EU non-recognition policy

Brussels 15.10.2021 The EU condemns the decision of the Russian Federation to conduct a population census in the “illegally annexed Ukrainian territory of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol” from 15 October until 14 November, and the launching of yet another conscription campaign on 1 October.

“These actions are an attempt to legitimise the illegal annexation of Crimea and further undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders”.(Tweet below: new road infrastructure).

The European Union calls on Russia to stop all violations of international law and international humanitarian law on the Crimean peninsula. The European Union will continue to work for a peaceful end of Russia’s “illegal annexation of the peninsula”, as reiterated at the first summit of the International Crimean Platform on 23 August. The European Union will continue and to enforce its non-recognition policy.

Lavrov: AUKUS undermines ASEAN

Brussels 03.10.2021 New AUKUS alliance between the US, the UK, and Australia as well as the four-sided dialogue on security between the US, Japan, India, and Australia (Quad) are directed at eroding the long-standing universal formats of cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region existing under the auspices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the 29th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy on October 2, Saturday.

The Russian top diplomat noted, “one of the most fashionable trends today is the so-called Indo-Pacific strategies that are invented by the United States,” in particular, AUKUS and Quad (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between United States, India, Japan and Australia).

“All of this follows the line of eroding the universal formats in the Asia-Pacific Region which existed for the past decades under the auspices of ASEAN,” Lavrov underlined.

The minister named “East Asian summits, the ASEAN security forum, meetings of ASEAN defense ministers and partners, the so-called ASEAN+, and a number of other formats” based on the “principle of consensus” among such universal formats.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has previously questioned whether the EU would be able to strike a trade deal with Australia, in solidarity with France.

But on Friday, September 1, spokespersons for the European Commission explained than it is not “punishing anybody”. The decision to delay the talks by a month took place a couple of days ago and would “allow us to prepare better”, they said, adding that it was not “unusual” to push back trade talks.

UN: Borrell-Lavrov meeting in NYC

Brussels 24.09.2021 The EU High Representative Josep Borrell met with the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, in the margins of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday. They discussed EU-Russia relations as well as pressing international issues.(Image: archive)

High Representative Borrell addressed some of the challenges in EU-Russia relations, the objective being to aim at a more stable and predictable relationship. Disagreements persist, in particular in regards to Russia’s violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in the area of democracy and human rights, as well as with regard to cyber, disinformation and other hybrid threats.

The discussion focused on international issues where the EU and Russia should continue to cooperate, with a view to addressing global security challenges such as the situation in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, the Middle East Peace Process or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

ex-President Ashraf Ghani brother joins Taliban

Brussels 21.08.2021 Ashraf Ghani’s brother joins Taliban, EHA News reports. Former President Ashraf Ghani’s brother Heshmat Ghani pledged allegiance to Taliban,the video of the ceremony was released on the social media.

Heshmat Ghani Ahmadzai joined the Taliban in the presence of Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani, a senior Taliban member, and declared his support for the Taliban.

Local Pajhwok news agency said on Saturday, August 21, that Hashmat Ghani, brother of former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, had pledged allegiance to the movement. Heshmat Ghani, who heads the Kush (Bedouin) Grand Council in Afghanistan, held no official post during Ashraf Ghani’s eight-year presidency.
Heshmat Ghani appeared in a video pledging allegiance to Khalil Rahman, a prominent member of the Taliban movement, according to the Afghan agency.

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Tajikistan has accused Afghan President Ashraf Ghani of stealing nearly $170 million while fleeing Kabul, and the diplomat is calling for international authorities to arrest him.

Ambassador Zahir Aghbar, during a news conference said said Ghani, who fled the country as the Taliban entered Kabul on Sunday, on August 15, and “stole $169 million from the state coffers,” according to The Associated Press.

He did not offer any additional details regarding his allegation.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic for NATO leadership

Brussels 25.07.2021 Is Former Croatia President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in Line for Top NATO Job?
As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the Politico portal, announced that for the first time in the 72-year history of the Alliance, the incumbent Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is looking for a successor, preferably from Eastern Europe. Taking into consideration the equity agenda, the time for change and break glass ceiling,
the main candidate is Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who was a former Vice President of NATO and was also an ambassador to the United States.

(Image above: archive, Moscow The 2018 FIFA World Cup Final: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovich with Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin)

Another factor is whether the country from which the presidential candidate is coming from meets the NATO target of spending of a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

It has been noted that Croatia’s former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic has an “impressive biography”, leading this hypothesis to be regarded among relevant political leaders and diplomats.

Back during the 2015 Croatian presidential campaign, the then HDZ candidate didn’t want to reveal what her salary was as an assistant working at North-Atlantic Treaty Organisaton.

“I still follow the instructions given to me by NATO, which oblige me as a former NATO employee to make sure this data isn’t to be disclosed to the public, and the salary is much less than twenty thousand euros,” said former President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic at the confrontation at which the matter was discussed with Ivo Josipovic (SDP), who claimed that salaries in NATO were not kept secret.

Afterwards in late 2016, there was speculation that former British Prime Minister David Cameron potentially becoming NATO’s new secretary general, and the British newspaper The Independent reported that the salary for the post was £220,000 a year (which is around €21,000 per month). According to the document from the beginning of 2020, the highest monthly salary paid out to a NATO employee stood at €23,646.

Fast forward to November 2020, NATO asked its members to increase funds in order to further improve the salaries of its employees, in accordance with the agreed methodology, which some allies refused, considering it inappropriate at hard times of the pandemic.

At Headquarters, formal talks on Stoltenberg’s successor have just begun, and the new Secretary-General is scheduled to introduce the NATO leaders’ summit in Madrid in late spring or early summer next year.

Image below: A competitor of Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovich  in NATO top job race – incumbent Estonia President Kersti Kaljulaid.

Continue reading “Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic for NATO leadership”

Geneva awaiting for Biden-Putin talks

Brussels 13.06.2021 The authorities of Geneva welcome the choice of Villa La Grange as the venue of the June 16 meeting of Russian and US presidents, the spokesperson for the Canton of Geneva, Emmanuel Cuenod, told TASS News agency.

“We are happy, and we are looking forward to having this meeting there, in this beautiful Villa La Grange, which is one of the most gorgeous places in Geneva,” Cuenod said.

The spokesperson said La Grange Park, where the villa is located, is a very popular site that Geneva’s residents and visitors visit for recreation. In particular, he mentioned a beautiful view of Geneva Lake and the fountain Jet d’Eau. Both delegations and journalists will be able to enjoy the beauties of the Geneva region, he said.

Cuenod refrained from comment as to what was being done for the past few days to get the villa ready for the summit. Currently, the building houses the city’s library.

Earlier on Thursday, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said the summit meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden would be held at the Villa La Grange on June 16. The 18th-century villa is in the very center of a 21-hectare park on the shores of Geneva Lake. The villa has belonged to the city since 1917.

On June 8-18, the villa is closed to visitors, and a steel barrier has been placed around the park. The authorities of the Canton of Geneva on June 9 said security would be tightened on June 14-17. All flights by drones over the canton have been prohibited. Geneva’s waterfronts, the lake, La Grange Park, and the adjoining Eaux-Vives Park were included in a special security perimeter where special measures of control are in effect.

Steven Seagal joins pro-Kremlin party

Brussels 30.05.2021 Hollywood actor Steven Seagal, who has Russian citizenship, has joined a pro-Kremlin political party Справедливая Россия (Just Russia). The A Just Russia party backs almost all Kremlin initiatives and supports President Vladimir Putin but formally is a rival of the ruling United Russia party.

At a ceremony on May 29, Seagal posed for pictures next to one of the party leaders, Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin, who is associated with Russia-backed separatists of Lugansk and Donetsk in Donbass reagion.

Seagal, who has personal ties with President Putin, was given Russian citizenship in 2016.

The 69-year-old actor has starred in Hollywood action movies such as Above The Law (1988), Hard To Kill (1990), and Under Siege (1992). His movies were popular in the Soviet Union and then in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics.

One of several Western actors and athletes who have been granted Russian citizenship under Putin, he was appointed by the Foreign Ministry as a special envoy for cultural ties with the United States in 2018.

The U.S.-born martial artist has retained his American citizenship.

Airlines: Russia attempts to retaliate

Brussels 28.05.2021 Airlines revealed Russia has blocked some European flights avoiding Belarus airspace in a standoff over the arrest of a Belarusian journalist, as his parents pleaded Thursday for international help to get him released.

The G7 global powers also demanded Minsk release Roman Protasevich and the EU’s foreign policy chief threatened hard-hitting economic sanctions.

Belarus’s strongman President Alexander Lukashenko sparked international outrage by dispatching a fighter jet Sunday to intercept a Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius carrying Roman Protasevich, 26, and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega, 23.

A nervous-looking Protasevich was last seen in a video released by Belarusian authorities on Monday in which he was seen supposedly admitting to helping to organise mass unrest, a charge that could land him in jail for 15 years.

“I want you to relay our appeal everywhere, throughout the world, to government representatives, to EU countries, to EU leaders, to US leaders: I am appealing, I am begging, help me free my son,” his mother Natalia told journalists in Warsaw, visibly moved.

Roman’s father, Dmitry said his son was “a tough man” and “a hero”. After almost three decades of service in Belarus armed forces Dmitry was sacked by Lukashenko order as a demonstrative punitive measure for his son’s political activity.

“Throughout his life he fought for the truth and passed it on to people, which is why Lukashenko committed this despicable act,” he said.

The family and their lawyer confirmed that they have not had any communication with their son since his arrest.

Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven wealthy nations on Thursday, May 27, demanded the “immediate and unconditional release” of Protasevich, “as well as all other journalists and political prisoners held in Belarus”, in a joint statement published by the British government.

Russia supports Ryanair highjack

Brussels 24.05.2021 Anna van Densky OPINION The defence of Belarus President Lukashenko actions, which have been already defined by some of the EU politicians as “state terrorism”, indicated that Russia has been informed or, even engaged in this operation, which also can lead to a suggestion the the liberation of Protasevich and the other political prisoners in Belarus would be possible through an asymmetric answer. The extensive presence of Russians at French Riviera, purchasing luxury mansions and palaces could become an key to the liberation of all political prisoners in Belarus, just through questioning the sources of their wealth.

“There is no reason why Western countries should be shocked by the Ryanair flight incident, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook on Monday, May 24, clearly defending the actions of Alexandar Lukashenko, who sent MiG29 jet to force civil aircraft landing with purpose of kidnapping the Belarus opposition journalist Roman Protasevich.

“What is shocking is that the West has described the incident in Belarusian airspace as shocking. The so-called civilised democracies’ tendency to follow the ‘quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi’ principle has long been irrelevant because the former leaders have lost leadership skills. The blood and suffering of millions of people across the world have yanked the pedestal from under Western demagogues, from where they have been preaching,” Zakharova has underlined.

“Or, they should be shocked by everything, including the moves to force down the Bolivian president’s plane in Austria at the United States’ request and the Belarusian aircraft carrying an anti-Maidan activist. Otherwise, such behavior should not come as a shock to them,” the Russian diplomat emphasized.

During Ryanair flight to Vilnius that took off from Athens was forced to make an emergency landing at Minsk International Airport on Sunday, May 23, after a reported bomb threat, which came up empty. The Belarusian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case into the false bomb threat. Minsk’s federal authorities specified that Roman Protasevich, wanted in Belarus as a co-founder of the Nexta Telegram channel deemed extremist, had been among the flight’s passengers. He was detained by law enforcement officers, media reports said.

A joint investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and the French Le Monde revealed the extent to which one of Russia’s most infamous oligarchs — Putin’s childhood friend Boris Rotenberg — is entrenched in the French Riviera. However he was not the only one. Would the EU show the political will for Protasevich liberation start questioning Russians wealth sources at French Riviera?

Russian Navalny doctor vanishes

Brussels 10.05.2021 Russian doctor Alexander Murakhovsky who first treated Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny after he collapsed on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow last year, has disappeared, Russian police said on Sunday, May 9.
The physician was last seen leaving a hunting base in a forest in the Omsk region — around 2,200 km (1,370 miles) east of Moscow — in an all-terrain vehicle on Friday, police said.

A search effort was already underway including emergency services, drones, a helicopter and volunteers on the ground. The doctor was promoted to the position of regional health minister last November.

The doctor falsely announced that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was not poisoned but had a bout of pancreatitis and hypoglycemia has disappeared in a swampy forest, according to several Russian media outlets. Kremlin-friendly outlet Life.ru suggested that “there could have been an accident” after two bears were spotted where the doctor was last seen.

Alexander Murakhovsky, who was promoted to become minister of health of the Omsk Region days after he publicly refuted claims that someone had tried to kill Vladimir Putin’s most public foe, went hunting on a four-wheeler May 7 and has not been seen since. His hunting companions reportedly say his four-wheeler got stuck in muddy terrain behind them, and he set off on foot. He spoke to one person on his walkie-talkie but later did not respond.