BATTLE FOR UKRAINE - Who wants what?

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  • RUSSIA

For centuries Ukraine was in the Russian sphere of influence. Back in the days of the Russian Empire, the term “Little Russia” was commonly used for parts of modern-day Ukraine then under control of the Russian tsars. Nearly 100 years later, the Russian President Vladimir Putin is still using the diminutive name. Putin also once described the collapse of the Soviet Union as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century” and in this context it seems like he thinks about annexing further parts of the country after beeing successfull with Crimea.

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Accordingly, Russia considers the pro-Western demonstrationsand the potential rapprochement between Ukraine and the EU/NATO as a threat and accuses the West of formenting the revolution.

Then there is also the fact that without Ukraine, there is no Eurasian Union, which was planned by Putin as a counterweight to the European Union. He wanted to develop trade and economic relations with members of a customs union that would include Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Ukraine was considered as a key part of the plan.

Gas supplies had also long been an explosive issue between Russia and Ukraine. Russia is the key supplier of gas to the European Union, the biggest amount of gas runs trough Ukrainian pipeline network.

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The fear might also be that the pro-Western protests in Ukraine might swap over to Russia and effect the Russians get ideas about taking to the streets, ecpecially after the “color revolutions” of the past decade (2003 Georgia, 2004 Ukraine, 2005 Kyrgyzstan).

  • EUROPEAN UNION

For years the EU tried to negotiate with Ukraine about the European Union Association Agreement, but those efforts were always blocked by former President Viktor Yanukovych and his predecessors who were put under pressure by Russia.

After Yanukovych was removed from power through the revolution in February, the political and economical part of the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement was signed by the new government.

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At the beginning of the revolution in Ukraine the EU acted as a mediator, after change of government and with the beginning of the uprising of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine it supported the pro-European government in Kyiv by introducing economic sanctions against Russia for supporting the separatists. The call for toughter sanctions might be heard as the crisis worsens.

Especially the eastern European members (mainly Poland and the Baltics) urge for a toughter line against the Kremlin as they fear they could be next on Vladimir Putin’s list. 

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Poland, Finland and the Baltics already asked NATO for additional bases and military presence in their region.

  • UNITED STATES

In face of Russia’s position in the Ukraine crisis, as member of NATO and because of geostrategic means, the United States attach more importance to the situation in eastern Europe.

At first they counted on the crisis diplomacy of the EU, but they quickly realized it had reached an impasse and decided to make more pressure by developping the sanctions system with the EU and later calling for stronger response against Moscow.

They also offered economic support which is linked to political and econmic reforms.

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The plan is simple, but hard to carry out - the US aims to restore stability to the region by keeping Russia out of Europe. It’s all about geopolitics.

But the effort to end the crisis and reach the stabitity in Europe has also some practical means. With the Israel-Gaza conflict, the Syrian Civil War and ISIS in Iraq, the US has from their position a much bigger problem to handle in the Middle East. So it might be in the highest interest of the United States to end the conflict in Ukraine as fast as possible.

The question now is: WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP NOW?

Poland Marks The 75th Anniversary Of The Outbreak Of World War II On The Westerplatte Peninsula In Gdansk

It was on Gdansk’s small Westerplatte peninsula that the first shots of World War II were fired.  The fighting began in the early hours of September 1, 1939, when the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein fired on the Polish fort of Westerplatte. A small detachment of fewer than 200 Polish soldiers  attempting to withhold a siege from Nazi Germany held out for a full week before they had to surrender. 

Prior to the attack on Westerplatte, the Nazi’s staged a number of operations aimed at creating the illusion of Polish aggression on Germany as a pretext for attack.

Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later. Two weeks later, a half-million Russian troops attacked Poland from the east. World War II had begun.

Today various ceremonies are being held in Poland to mark the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

Later German President Joachim Gauck is to join his Polish counterpart, Bronislaw Komorowski to commemorate the occasion. 

Pakistan On Crossroads - Deadly Clashes During Anti-government Protests

Islamabad, August 30, 2014

Since mid-August, the anti-government protests continue against the Pakistani government in Islamabad. Now they are entering a new stage as there had been first fatalities.

At the beginning of the protests the opposition groups marched to Islamabad to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. They claim that the 2013 election that brought Sharif into power was rigged and accuse him of massive voter fraud as well as mass corruption.

After holding more than two weeks of demonstrations outside the nearby parliament, the opposition leaders decided to move towards the home of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The clashes between demonstrators and riot police outside the prime minister’s residence on Sunday left three dead and more than 400 injured as police used tear gas, rubber bullets and batons against the demonstrators as the protests turned violent.

Pakistani opposition leader and former cricket player Imran Khan called “all democracy-loving Pakistanis” to join the protest and “continue to the last breath”.

The situation remains critical, as Sharif continues to ignore demands that he leave office. Also the role of the military is still questionable, as there might be hints of a possible military intervention, but no clear positioning on which side the military might take action.

Between Israel and Syria - UN Peacekeepers Enclosed by Islamist Rebels In Golan Heights

Golan Heights, August 29, 2014

Members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force trapped by Islamist militants on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights have been freed and moved to a secure place, the United Nations said in a recent statement. They left during a ceasefire agreed with the al- Qaeda aligned Al-Nusra Front.

Nevertheless 44 Fijian soldiers were detained by militants on Thursday and remain missing.

UNDOF has an contingent of 1223 peacekeepers from 6 countries (Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, the Netherlands and the Philippines) in the conflict zone.

It is the fact that Russia is in a war state against Ukraine. That means it is in a state of war against a country which would like to be closely integrated with the EU. Practically Russia is in a state of war against Europe.
That means we need to help Ukraine to defend its territory and its people and to help militarily, especially with the military materials to help Ukraine to defend itself because today Ukraine is fighting a war on behalf of all Europe.
Dalia Grybauskaite, President of Lithuania

BREAKING NEWS: Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk will become president of the European Council and Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini will replace Catherine Ashton as Foreign Policy Chief.

At the meeting in Brussels today the European community also made a decision about implementing further and stricter sanctions against Russia over the escalating conflict in Ukraine.

NATO Releases Satellite Imagery Showing Russian Combat Troops Inside Ukraine

After fighting erupted also in the coastal town of Novoazovsk, NATO released satellite images that might show Russian artillery units operating in Eastern Ukraine.

A convoy of Russian armed vehicles and artillery is seen rolling through Krasnodon in Luhansk oblast on 21 August and setting up firing positions in the separatist-controlled region, as well as images of activity along the border , showing Russian long-range guns pointing towards Ukrainian territory.

The satellite images could provide additional evidence that Russian soldiers, equipped with heavy weaponry, are operating inside Ukraine’s sovereign territory.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin and government officials have long rejected accusations of Russian involvement in the violence in eastern Ukraine but the latest images will be very difficult to deny.

Steam And Smoke - Small Eruption Near Bardarbunga Volcano on Iceland

Iceland, August 29, 2014

Iceland’s Meteorological Office reported that the eruption took place yesterday at the Holuhraun lava field, 5 kilometres north of Dyngjujoekull glacier, near Bardarbunga volcano.

No volcanic ash has been detected by the radar system, the event was described as being not highly explosive and not producing significant amounts of the fine ash that can affect aircraft engines.

ketrindoll asked:

Do you think that world leaders are really that blind about what's happening in Ukraine or are they just pretending to be? Also, do you feel, just as I feel, that there might be a third World War?

Well, this is indeed an important question. To be honest, I hope that they start to assess the situation earnestly and develop some realistic emergency plans in case the situation will escalate.

But we should not talk about war in first place.

At first everything possible should be done to solve the crisis through direct talks, if this doesn’t work (and it probably won’t work), it’s necessary to improve heavy economic sanctions and complete isolation. I think, if everyone is on board with that, this is going to work out. Cooperation can have an deterrent effect on Russia.

As for now I’m optimistic, I don’t expect a World War. They will favor a diplomatic solution, nobody wants to go to war. Vladimir Putin knows that in case of farther Russian military interventions (also on EU territory), there would be heavy responses by NATO, EU and the US for sure, not only in military means, so I this will probably cause a back down.

We are carrying on war against Ukraine. It’s for real. We are sending troops and military hardware there. Ukrainians are fighting good, but they are retreating. It’s an uneven confrontation certainly.

And at the same time our authorities are lying all the time. In the 1980ies [they lied] about Afghanistan. In 1990-ies about Chechnya. And today they are telling lies about Ukraine. We know that. But we silently burying our colleagues, friends and relatives, who are on the both sides now, who are killing each other not because they want, but because the ageing regime needs blood all the time.

We keep silent and pretend that we believe this regime. Why? We could, and we still can stop that. It is enough just to take to the streets, to threaten by a strike. So why are we silent? Have we lost nerve?! Are we even afraid of thinking about that?

And isn’t it dreadful to lose children?! Or to shoot at brothers? How are we going to live after that?

Well, I do not want and I am not going to keep silent anymore!

Mikhail KhodorkovskyRussian businessman and former oligarch

Probably Vladimir Putin’s biggest enemy inside Russia. 

Consolidation of Power - Erdogan Sworn in as New Turkish President

Turkey’s outgoing premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who won the country’s first direct presidential election on August 10, was sworn in as president today. He took his oath in parliament to become the 12th president of modern Turkey.

Leading members of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), who accuse Erdogan of violating the constitution, walked out of the session just before he was sworn in.

With his success in the past elections, Erdogan extended his dominant rule of the country and cemented his position as its most powerful leader of recent times. Opponents now fear more authoritarian rule and widening religious influence in public life.

Beyond Borders - Islamists Seize Golan Heights Crossing

Golan Heights, August 27, 2014

After Syrian Islamist rebels took control of the Quneitra crossing across the border from Israel in the Golan Heights within 200 yards of territory controlled by Israel yesterday, today fighter planes of the Syrian army shelled Islamist rebel positions in the Israeli-controlled area.

The crossing is being monitored by the United Nations, which oversees the situation between the two enemy countries.

During the fighting, an Israeli soldier was apparently injured by a ricochet from Syrian territory what prompted an artillery barrage against two Syrian Army positions in the Golan Heights.

Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli national security adviser, said ‘Israel should not interfere in the conflict and should respond only if attacked or to provide humanitarian assistance to wounded people on the demarcation line’.

Israel declared it has no interest in further involvement in the fighting.