In Digest, Ukraine

Note by New Cold, editors: The posting to this website of news wire service stories such as the following does not imply endorsation of the views expressed nor does it suggest the story is entirely factual. For example, we leave it to the discerning reader to decide whether the inference in the following story that Russia or the pro-autonomy rebels in eastern Ukraine have failed to implement the ceasefire agreement signed in Minsk on Sept. 5, whereas the Ukraine government has done so, is acccurate or not. Further, the reader can judge the veracity of the claim by Angela Merkel reported in the story that the the vote in Crimea on March 16, 2014 to secede from Ukraine constitutes an “annexation” by Russia. And you can judge the description of Kyiv’s “anti-terrorist operation” launched last April as “fighting broke out”. Our role as editors is to provide all sides of the complex story of Ukraine, Crimea, their relations with Russia, and the intervention of NATO and the EU/U.S. in eastern Europe. We assume a particular duty to provide the sides of the story that are frozen out of Western mainstream media, for example, the ongoing violations of the Minsk agreement by the Ukraine armed forces and militias. 

Merkel: no end to Russia sanctions if Minsk agreement not met

Deutsche Welle, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015

European sanctions against Russia will only be eased once all parts of last year’s Minsk agreement for a Ukraine truce are met, Angela Merkel says. It comes as the EU announced 1.8 billion euros in aid for Ukraine.

Angela Merkel said on Thursday that the key to ending sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict was the full implementation of last September’s Minsk agreement between the government in Kyiv and pro-Moscow separatists. Speaking in Berlin at a press conference with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Merkel said “the implementation of sanctions had certain causes, and these sanctions can only be lifted when the causes are eliminated again.”

“I think we need to see the entire Minsk agreement implemented before we can say that sanctions will be lifted,” she said.

Under the deal in September, both sides agreed to a ceasefire and the withdrawal of “illegal armed groups, military hardware, and all fighters and mercenaries” from Ukraine. The deal, however, failed to stop the conflict.

Both sides met again at the end of December in an attempt to secure the shaky ceasefire, but the talks broke down and managed only to secure a mutual prisoner swap.

Ukraine and the West have accused Moscow of furthering the conflict in eastern Ukraine by supplying the separatists with troops and weapons – a charge the Kremlin has denied.

Russia’s economy has taken a hit from the sanctions – as well as from falling oil prices – with its ruble currency plummeting in recent months. Figures for November show that the country’s economy contracted by 0.5 percent compared to the same month in 2013. That was Russia’s first economic contraction since October 2009.

The UN estimates that more than 4,700 people have been killed since the fighting in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk broke out in April, following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Merkel said she did not expect separate sanctions tied to Crimea would be lifted, as this would require Russia to reverse its annexation of the territory.

Kazakhstan talks

Merkel said on Thursday that work was in progress to set up a possible meeting in Kazakhstan, but it remains unclear whether it will go ahead. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said last month he would meet with the French, German and Russian leaders in Astana on January 15 over the ongoing Ukraine conflict.

“The talks in coming days will show whether we’re ready for such a meeting,” Merkel said.

The meeting with Yatsenyuk came a day after the hacking of the website of Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, and Merkel’s official chancellery page.

The pro-Russia group CyberBerkut claimed to have carried out the attack in connection with Yatsenyuk’s visit to Berlin.

Ukraine aid announced

Also on Thursday, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled plans to lend an additional 1.8 billion euros ($2.1 billion) to rescue the almost bankrupt Kyiv government. It adds to the 1.4 billion euros handed over last year in medium-term loans.

The bloc’s 28 members and the European Parliament must still approve the additional loans.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s official visit to Berlin on Jan. 8, 2015 was condemended by app. 50 antiar, anti-fascist protesters. Video here:

See also:
* Merkel urges Russia to use influence over rebels to end East Ukraine crisis, Reuters, Dec 28, 2014
* Ukraine to hold three waves of military mobilization in 2015, Sputnik New, Dec 20, 2014



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