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March 27, 2015 / 7 Nisan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Iran Confers with Russia before Resumption of Talks with P5+1

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has consulted with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in preparation for a resumption of negotiations Wednesday with the P5+1 towards reaching an interim agreement before the end of the month on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Russia is a member of the P5+1 but also has a vested interest in Iran’s nuclear development, in which it has invested billions of dollars.

“It’s high time for the US and its allies to choose: pressure or agreement,” Zarif wrote on his Twitter account last week.

 

Report: Tony Blair to Resign as Quartet Mideast Envoy

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair is reportedly set to announce plans to resign as Quartet envoy to the Middle East.

It was under Blair’s leadership that the Quartet demanded that Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization fulfill three conditions in order to receive any funding from Europe: recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence and terrorism, and agree to uphold agreements signed by prior Palestinian Authority governments.

Nevertheless, according to a report Sunday by the Financial Times, Blair’s role as representative to the region — recommended by then-U.S. President George W. Bush — as envoy for the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, was always controversial.

There was no specific term limit, nor was there a clear review requirement, and caused some “consternation in Europe and the UN.”

Eight years later, various parties are still complaining although Blair’s role was limited due to restrictions on his authority. It was never clear how much control the envoy actually had in affecting events in the region he served.

“People close to Mr. Blair argue that he cannot be blamed for the failure of the peace process,” wrote the Financial Times. “They say he has invested political capital and time on an unpaid mission because he is passionate about promoting peace.”

Palestinian Authority officials in the entity’s capital in the Samaria city of Ramallah don’t agree: officials there told FT they “hope so” when asked how they’d feel about Blair resigning. Blair’s office has had no comment.

Lithuania Restores Military Draft, Eyes Ukraine’s Fight for Life

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

As the situation in Ukraine provides an object lesson in what to avoid in national defense strategies, Lithuania has decided to restore mandatory army service to its list of “to do”s for young men entering adulthood.

Lithuanian males from ages 19 to 27 will be called to serve their country for a period of nine months beginning in September 2015. The draft will be in force for the next five years.

Some 3,000 eligible males will be drafted, government officials told international media on Tuesday. President Dalia Grybauskaite said after a meeting of top government officials and military leaders the measure was necessary due to the “growing aggression in Ukraine. Lithuania has no tanks or military aircraft, however. Its entire military force totals some 15,000 troops.

The move comes amid tensions that continue to widen concern around the region — as well as around the world — as Ukraine fights for its life with pro-Russia separatists seizing control over an increasingly wide area.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday, according to the DW website.

Speaking to a meeting of U.S. senators, an irritated Kerry said Tuesday that officials in Moscow had been “lying” about Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.

“Russia has engaged in a rather remarkable period of the most overt and extensive propaganda exercise that I’ve seen since the height of the Cold War,” Kerry told the Senate subcommittee meeting. “And they have been persisting in their misinterpretations — lies — whatever you want to call them — about their activities to my face, to the face of others, on many different occasions,” he added.

On Saturday, he and the Russian foreign minister would meet to discuss “Syria and other things” before leaving for Iran to continue negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear development program.

32 Illegal Foreign Workers Arrested in Ashdod

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Immigration officials arrested 32 illegal foreign workers in Ashdod Sunday night, including 10 who were employed in a fish plant and another 10 in a bakery.

All of them were from Ukraine, except for one from Russia, and of them were women.

They will be deported after a hearing.

 

 

Ukraine Conflict Transforming to ‘Russia versus the West’

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Despite a cease-fire that went into effect one minute after midnight on Sunday, the conflict has apparently resumed between pro-Russia separatists and Ukraine government forces, but with clear Russian involvement.

The European Union has responded by activating sanctions against nine organizations and 19 people in Russia, including two Russian deputy defense ministers and Iosef Kobzon, age 77 — a Jewish man known as the “Russian Frank Sinatra.”

Kobzon is a long-time member of the Russian parliament. Sanctions were imposed against him because he “visited the so-called Donetsk People’s Repubic and during his visit made statements supporting separatists” after the Kremlin annexed Crimea, seizing it from Ukraine, the EU Official Journal explained. Donetsk is Kobzon’s birthplace.

For weeks the Russian-backed separatists have been focusing their attention on laying siege to the railway hub of Debaltseve, which so far has remained under the control of the Ukraine forces.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said at a briefing over the weekend that photos snapped in eastern Ukraine provided “credible pieces of evidence” that Russia herself – and not just separatist rebels – has been involved in the conflict.

“We are confident that [large amounts of artillery and multiple rocket launchers seen in the images around Debaltseve] are Russian military, not separatist systems,” Psaki said.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in a phone conversation on Saturday to discuss the situation. Kerry expressed concern over what he called efforts by Russia and separatists to cut off the town ahead of the cease-fire.

Artillery fire was also exchanged in massive shootouts around the rebel-held regions of both Donetsk and Lugansk. Rocket attacks were directed at areas around the government-held Azov Sea port city of Mariupol on Saturday as well.

Last week a teacher at the Chabad-Lubavitch preschool was killed in Donetsk when a rocket slammed into her apartment, killing her instantly. Irina Shelkayeba was an active member of the Donetsk Jewish community and a teacher at the Ohr Avner Preschool, Rabbi Aryeh Schvartz told Chabad.org.

The Beth Menachem synagogue – the only synagogue left in Donetsk – survived a narrow miss in a rocket attack that followed Shelkayeba’s death the same day. Instead, a minibus in a bus station some 300 meters away was hit by a shell in an attack that followed on the heels of the one that killed Shelkayeba.

Four people were killed in that attack, including the driver of the bus, which was incinerated along with a nearby vehicle. Nevertheless, the synagogue’s morning minyan (quorum) gathered to pray the regular morning service 90 minutes later as it does each day. Emergency food and supply packages sponsored by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews were then distributed at the Jewish Community Center next door to the synagogue.

The city’s Chabad emissary, Rabbi Pinchas Vishedski, said, “We have recently known many especially difficult and terrible days. I ask that Jews worldwide pray for their brethren in the war-torn territories – for everyone living in danger – and that they should all have peace and security.”

Putin Agrees to Cease-Fire in Ukraine

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday morning he has agreed to a cease-fire brokered by France and Germany to end the 10-month stand-off in Ukraine.

The deal is amends the cease-fire agreement last September that failed. Each side has agreed to retract heavy weapons, release all prisoners and allow more autonomy to separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The agreement does not settle all issues, and Germany’s foreign minister said it was not a “comprehensive solution”

The cease-fire is to begin on February 15.

Obama, Merkel Won’t ‘Allow Borders of Europe To Be Redrawn by Barrel of a Gun’

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed Monday they would stand together in the battle to restrain Russia from swallowing European territory again.

Speaking with reporters following a meeting Monday at the Oval Office, Obama said he was “very encouraged about the extent to which we’ve been able to maintain U.S.-European unity on this issue.

“We are in absolute agreement that the 21st century cannot have us stand idle and allow the borders of Europe to be redrawn by the barrel of a gun,” Obama said.

But the president added there were “tactical disagreements” on how to proceed, should diplomatic efforts fail to resolve the crisis between pro-Russia separatists and Ukraine.

With the suggestion that military aid to Ukraine could be considered, “The possibility of lethal defensive weapons is one of those options that’s being examined,” Obama said.

No decision has yet been made about that choice, however, which Merkel opposes.

“I’ve always said I don’t see a military solution in this conflict but we have to put all our efforts behind a diplomatic solution,” she said, speaking in German. “But if, at a certain point in time one has to say that a success is not possible, even if one puts every effort into it, then the United States and Europe have to sit together and try and explore further possibilities, what one can do.”

Talks in Munich and Kiev proved fruitless last week. A new attempt will be made this Wednesday in Minsk.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/obama-merkel-wont-allow-borders-of-europe-to-be-redrawn-by-barrel-of-a-gun/2015/02/10/

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