Obama Issues New Sanctions Against Russia
President Barack Obama issued new sanctions Monday morning against seven Russian individuals and 17 companies. The sanctions ostensibly target Putin “cronies” and are in fact a further indication of Obama’s inability to line up European support for sanctions targeting key segments of the Russian economy. In fact, European Union ambassadors meeting Monday in Brussels were working out their own list of sanctions against Russian individuals that will not at all match the Washington choices. Russia Today reported that the EU has added 15 individuals to their sanctions list, and that it is still unclear whether the EU will publish their names in the coming days in the EU Official Journal.
It was notable that, despite New York Times and other media reports that Gazprom head Aleksei Miller would be on the new American sanctions list, his name did not appear on the document posted by the Treasury Department. Gazprom has extensive business dealings with three of the biggest Anglo-American oil companies—Exxon/Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum.
Hagel and Shoigu Talk for One Hour
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had a one-hour phone conversation yesterday with his U.S. counterpart Chuck Hagel, which the Russian side characterized as a “frank,” i.e. acrimonious exchange of views about Ukraine.
Itar-TASS reports that Shoigu flatly denied any presence of Russian sabotage and reconnaissance groups in Ukraine.
At the same time, Shoigu said that under the pretext of fighting terrorism, the Kiev regime had amassed about 80 tanks, over 130 armored personnel carriers and fighting vehicles, at least 60 artillery systems and mortars in the southeast of Ukraine, along with combat aircraft, helicopters, and 15,000 troops.
He told Hagel that the possibility of forceful actions against peaceful people caused Russia to start large-scale maneuvers on the national territory in regions bordering on Ukraine. However, as soon as the Ukrainian authorities announced that they had no intention to use regular military units against unarmed people, the Russian units were ordered back to their bases.
Mayor of Large Ukraine City Targetted for Assassination
Hennady Kernes, the mayor of the second largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv, was the target of an assassination attempt yesterday. He was shot in the back and remains in critical condition in a local hospital. Keernes was a loud opponent of the Maidan coup and he actually sent local residents of the city to Kiev to join in counter-protests. More recently, according to the New York Times and other Western news sources, he opposed the secession of parts of eastern Ukraine. The Kiev government has used this as a pretext for attempting to blame the pro-Russian protesters for the attempted assassination, when all of the context actually points to the Right Sector or third-force mercenaries known to be operating on the ground in eastern Ukraine on private security contracts with the Kiev government and some of the appointed governors.
Lunatic Neo-Con Jackson Diehl Promotes NATO War With Russia
Jackson Diehl, editorial page editor of Washington Post, has a typical deplorable neo-con attack on Russia, but it is notable that he is in Tallin, Estonia to attend the Lennart Meri security conference. He notes ominously that Russia has recently staged maneuvers simulating an invasion of the Baltic states by 20,000 Russian troops—more than the combined armed forces of the three Baltic states. Hyping the Baltic vulnerability to a Russian invasion, Diehl presses the significance of the arrival of U.S. airborne troops to the Baltic states and pushes for further provocative forward basing of NATO forces. Most provocative, however, is his citation of some of the more rabid conference speakers who appear to be promoting a direct NATO confrontation with Russia. He quotes Estonian Maj. Gen. Riho Terras telling the conference “If the first green man appears in Narva, the government knows exactly how to respond. You have to shoot the first green man, and the second will not come.” This is of course highly provocative and dangerous, given that the Baltic states are NATO members, and are therefore covered by NATO’s collective security provisions. The “green men” referred to by Gen. Terras are the Russian Spetznaz forces allegedly infiltrated into eastern Ukraine, allegations that have now been discredited and retracted by the New York Times.
Nazis Continue to March openly in Ukraine
Russia Today has a photo spread on the celebration two days ago in Lviv (Lvov) of the formation of the 14th SS Volunteer “Galicia” Division on April 28, 1943. The spread shows hundreds of marchers, all quite young people, carrying the division’s banners. It also shows a much older man vocally challenging one of them. Many of the participants wore embroidered national Ukrainian shirts. They marched from a downtown monument to Stepan Bandera, to a monument to the SS 14th Division’s soldiers in the local cemetery. The march was staged by the organizations “Native Land” and “Student Brotherhood of Stepan Bandera,” along with biker gangs, despite an appeal from the local administration to abstain from public gatherings on that day as it “may harm the unity of the country.”
Although the organizers promised a silent rally, marchers chanted “SS Galician Division,” “People of Lvov are the Strongest,” “Glory to the Nation — Death to Enemies,” and “Bandera and Shukhevych are Heroes of Ukraine.” RT says that the march was shortened as a result of the chants, and the organizers apologized to those whom they offended.