Saturday, May 3, 2014


  • by Daily Sabah
  • Updated : 03.05.2014 01:09:26
  • Published : 02.05.2014 20:08:15
Greece Vetoes Terrorist's Extradition
ISTANBUL — A Greek court rejected the extradition to Turkey of a member of the terrorist organization the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).

İsmail Akkol (41) was arrested in February in Greece along with other DHKP-C members Hüseyin Fevzi Tekin, Murat Korkut and Bilgehan Karpat. He is wanted by Turkey for involvement in the assassination of prominent businessman Özdemir Sabancı. When captured, Akkol was hiding in a penthouse in Athens and had a fake identification under the name Cengiz Bayır.

The verdict did not elaborate on the reason for the refusal of the extradition, while a group of DHKP-C supporters engaged in a minor scuffle with police at the courthouse where the hearing was underway. Two people were consequently detained.

Greek courts previously rejected extradition requests by Turkey for Hüseyin Fevzi Tekin, a senior leader of the terrorist organization, member Kadir Kaya, as well as Hasan Biber and Mehmet Yayla, two DHKP-C members who were captured aboard a boat loaded with weapons off the coast of the Greek island of Chios on July 30, 2013. In the case of Tekin, the court ruled for awaiting the finalization of his political asylum appeal before deciding on the extradition. Turkey and Greece have an extradition agreement and both countries are obliged to return suspects involved in criminal cases in those two countries.

Akkol, along with two other DHKP-C members, is accused of assassinating Sabancı, a member of one of the richest families in Turkey. Sabancı, his secretary Nilgün Hasefe and Haluk Görgün, general manager of Sabancı Corporation's Toyotasa Company, were killed during a meeting at the company's headquarters in Istanbul. Fehriye Erdal, a DHKPC member who was working at the company under the guise of a cleaner, was arrested for her involvement in the murders.

She fled to Belgium and then disappeared. Mustafa Duyar, another suspect, was captured in Turkey and killed in prison.

Greece has long been a favorite hideaway for terrorists from the DHKP-C and PKK. In the past, terrorists fleeing Turkey took shelter at refugee camps in Lavrion under the guise of asylum seekers, especially in the 1980s.

Along with attacks against Turkish security forces, the DHKP-C is responsible for a suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in the capital Ankara, which killed a Turkish security guard and injured a journalist in February 2013
Ukraine slides into civil war amid Merkel’s bid to bridge US-Russian differences. Putin resigns responsibility
DEBKAfile Special Report May 3, 2014, 
The Odessa fire - deadliest incident of Ukraine conflict
The Odessa fire - deadliest incident of Ukraine conflict
German Chancellor Angela Merkel bid during her visit to Washington Friday, April 2, to bridge the differences between Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin over Ukraine was overtaken by events on the ground. That morning, the US-backed interim government in Kiev launched its first serious offensive to retake the eastern Ukrainian cities captured by pro-Russian militias, starting with Slavyansk. In Odessa pro-Kiev gangs started a fire which left more than 40 militiamen dead.
Moscow’s reaction Saturday came directly from Putin’s office. His spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Neither Russia, nor any other country, can any longer influence citizens of Ukraine’s southeast… It will be impossible now to talk them into laying down their weapons when their lives are threatened by radicals, nationalists and armed forces that obey criminal orders and murder their own people.”
It was also made clear that the May 25 election was off, as far as the Kremlin was concerned.
Those comments followed the German chancellor's failure to make any headway on Ukraine in her White House interview with Obama, say debkafile’s Moscow sources.
That the Merkel-Obama talks did not go well was evident in both their remarks.The chancellor started by saying “We have a few difficulties to overcome between security and protecting privacy.” She was not only referring to the simmering scandal following last year’s revelation that the US National Security Agency was eavesdropping on her private cell phone calls; she also had in mind another intelligence issue between the two governments: future collaboration between the US and German agencies in Ukraine.
President Obama answered her with a piece of friendly advice: Germans following the Ukraine story from Russia’s perspective should “stay focused on the facts and what’s happening on the ground,” he said, and keep in mind that “there just has not been the kind of honesty and credibility about the situation” from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Obama urged broader sanctions as the only way to make the Russian president see the light.
It was obvious that Obama and Merkel were far from being in accord on Ukraine and on how Putin should be handled. Neither Merkel nor the German BND spy agency subscribes to Obama’s unquestioning backing for the interim government in Kiev.
And on Friday, they deeply resented the fact that on the day of Merkel’s Washington visit, the Kiev regime was allowed to launch its most serious military offensive against pro-Russian militias to date, starting in Slavyansk and spiraling Saturday into heavy fighting 15 kilometers away in the eastern town of Kramatorsk and other places.
Moscow responded by declaring “no longer viable” the Geneva accords for de-escalating the crisis reached in Geneva two weeks ago by the US, Russia, the EU and Ukraine.
The German chancellor for her part viewed the timing of the Kiev offensive as an American attempt to dictate to Berlin and Europe its policy of harsh, unequivocal confrontation with President Putin - when she had come to Washington to urge Obama to start listening to the Russian president instead of turning a deaf ear.
The wide gap between them came into hard focus when a German reporter at the press conference put a (possibly planted) question to Obama: Why instead of those long, fruitless phone conversations with Putin, doesn’t he try to meet him face to face and talk the Ukraine issue over instead of telling him what to do.
The US president ignored the question.
Before deciding whether to continue to try her hand at mediating the quarrel between the two presidents, Merkel faces two tough decisions:
1.  Whether or not to line up behind Obama’s policy of broadening sanctions against Russia until the Kremlin falls in behind Washington on Ukraine.
The answer to this question is negative. At home, the industrial giants that are the engines of Germany’s economic prosperity have lined up against this course. Before she went to Washington, she faced a powerful lobby of the chemical giant BASF SE, engineering group Siemens AG , Volkswagen AG , Adidas AG and Deutsche Bank AG, urging her to stand up to the US president against broader sanctions against Russia.
She can’t ignore them. Germany’s external trade is heavily weighted in favor of ties with Russia and China rather than America and a third of its gas comes from Russia. Furthermore, two former German chancellors Helmut Kohl and Gerhard Schroeder are partners in Moscow’s state energy concerns.
2.  Merkel must also determine whether the BND will join US agents to guarantee the May 25 election. At Friday’s news conference in Washington, she noted that not much time is left to that date, a hint that a postponement may be useful for developing dialogue with the Russian ruler and action to cool the hotheads leading the civil violence.
But Obama ignored her comment. Clearly, after giving the Kiev government its head for a military offensive that morning, he was not prepared to give up the prospect of the Ukraine military forcing its will on the dozens of towns held by the pro-Russian militias and making them take part in the vote.
Saturday morning, when it was not quiet clear where the US-Russian-German dance over Ukraine was headed, the pro-Russian militia of Slavyansk without prior notice suddenly released 12 military observers, seven Europeans and 5 Ukrainian officers, a week after seizing them. Among them were four Germans.
Word of their release came from Vladimir Lukin, an envoy sent by Putin to negotiate the release. It was accompanied by a comment from Moscow that it would be “absurd” to try and hold an election amidst a civil war. The Russian president appeared to be signaling he was amenable to certain concessions in return for postponing or calling off Ukraine’s elections.
But when no positive reaction came from Washington, Putin took the step of disowning responsibility for the violence spiralling in Ukraine.
After entering Kramatorsk, Ukrainian “anti-terrorism center” official Vasyl Krutov told reporters Saturday afternoon: “What we are facing in the Donetsk region and in the eastern regions is not just some kind of short-lived uprising, it is in fact war.”

Ukraine crisis: 'thousands' pleading for our help says Russia, as more clashes take place

Ukraine forces retake television tower in dawn raid in eastern region of Donetsk, but pro-Russian rebels free seven OSCE observers

Photo: EPA
Russia has received “thousands” of pleas for help from people inside Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Saturday, after the worst bloodshed inside its neighbour since the revolution in February.
With tens of thousands of Russian troops massed near Ukraine’s eastern frontier, violence of the kind that claimed about 40 lives in the port city of Odessa might provide Moscow with a reason to invade.
However, Russia used its influence to secure the release on Saturday of seven military observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), who had been held by pro-Kremlin rebels in the eastern town of Slavyansk.
The military officers – four Germans and one each from Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic – were freed alongside five Ukrainians who were acting as their escort. They had spent eight days in captivity at the hands of pro-Russian insurgents who have de facto control over Slavyansk, a town of 100,000 people in Donetsk region.
Their release appears to have been brokered by Vladimir Lukin, an envoy from the Kremlin, who visited Slavyansk.
Nearby, however, the Ukrainian army resumed its attempt to restore Kiev’s control over Donetsk region. Arsen Avakov, the interior minister, said that government forces had seized back a television tower near the town of Kramatorsk in a dawn operation.
Ukrainian forces have also tried to seal off Slavyansk by capturing pro-Russian checkpoints on its perimeter. They have not yet attempted a full scale assault to retake the town.
All their decisions are taken under the shadow of Russia’s possible response. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, denounced the bloodshed in Odessa, adding that “thousands” of “people are calling in despair, asking for help, the overwhelming majority demand Russian help. All these calls are reported to Vladimir Putin.”
But Mr Peskov said that Russia had not yet decided how to respond. “This element is absolutely new to us,” he said, according to the Interfax news agency. “Kiev and its Western sponsors are practically provoking the bloodshed and bear direct responsibility for it," added Mr Peskov.
Ukraine plans to hold a presidential election on May 25. The aim is to install a legitimate ruler after the downfall of Viktor Yanukovych, the fallen president, in the February Revolution. But Mr Peskov said that it would be “absurd” to hold an election under the current conditions of “military action, a punitive operation and mass killings”.

"Uncertain" if Montenegro will be invited to join NATO

PODGORICA -- Montenegrin Foreign Minister Igor Lukšić says it is uncertain whether Montenegro will receive an invitation to join NATO, the Montenegrin government announced.
(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)
Lukšić is visiting the United States where he attended a conference dedicated to the anniversary of enlargements of NATO and the EU, which was attended by senior U.S. officials, including State Secretary John Kerry and Vice President Joseph Biden.
Lukšić told Voice of America that the signals from the U.S. were "encouraging," but stressed that the invitation will be "a matter of consensus between member-states."

Podgorica is a candidate for membership in NATO and expects to be invited to join during the western military alliance's summit in September.

The government has stepped up a diplomatic offensive in order to gain support for its aspirations. To this end, Prime Minister Milo Đukanović traveled to the U.S. in April, as did his ministers of justice and interior affairs, while at the end of the month ministers of foreign affairs and defense will follow suit.

According to Lukšić, "Montenegro is closer to getting an invitation for membership" after these trips.

He said that NATO countries should by the end of June assess the country's readiness to become a member, but noted that the crisis in Ukraine "certainly influences the timing of NATO's enlargement."

During the conference which Lukšić attended, Biden said that the door to NATO was "fundamentally open" and that the organization was "more relevant today than ever."

Friday, May 2, 2014

Pro-Russia Separatists Shoot Down Helicopters; Ukraine Crisis Deepens

An armed pro-Russian man walks past burning debris at a checkpoint in the southern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on May 2, 2014. Ukraine's military lost two helicopters and two servicemen on May 2 in a deadly offensive launched just before dawn against pro-Russian rebels holding the flashpoint town of Slavyansk, insurgents and authorities said.
Image: VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images
This post was last updated May 2 at 12:50 p.m. ET.
IZYUM, Ukraine — Gunfire erupted on Friday as Ukraine's military forces launched a “large-scale operation” before dawn near the edges of the country’s embattled eastern region. The military attempted to force pro-Russia separatists to free hostages, lay down weapons and relinquish seized government buildings, authorities said.

During the assault on the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, pro-Kremlin separatists shot down two Ukrainian helicopters, killing the pilots on board, the country’s Defense Ministry said. Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the insurgent-appointed "people's mayor" of Sloviansk, was quoted by Russia's Interfax news agency as also saying two helicopters had been shot down.
Despite that setback, Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said Friday evening that the attack on rebel checkpoints around Sloviansk had left "many insurgents dead, wounded and arrested," but did not give an exact number.
He admitted, however, that there were some hitches during the operation.
“The operation doesn't unroll as fast as we want it to, and is significantly complicated by the fact that the terrorists' bases are located in the crowded cities and the terrorists themselves hide behind the civilians, take hostages and shoot from the windows of apartment buildings,” Turchynov said. "The offensive on the terrorists goes on."
Russian news outlets reported that a third helicopter had been shot down by Kremlin-backed militia fighters. The third helicopter could not be confirmed.

The pro-Kremlin forces said at least one Ukrainian helicopter pilot was killed during the fighting, while another had been detained, according to the Associated Press.
A Ukrainian military helicopter lands at a checkpoint which troops seized in the early morning in the village of Andreevka, 7 kms from the centre of the southern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, on May 2, 2014.
Image: VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a post on Facebook that other military personnel had been wounded after the pro-Russian militants fired anti-aircraft missiles at Ukrainian military helicopters. Avakov said that nine illegal rebel checkpoints had also been destroyed, and that professional mercenaries were operating within the rebel group.

“Against Ukraine’s special forces, terrorists used heavy artillery, including grenade launchers and portable anti-aircraft missile launchers,” the minister said.
“Against Ukraine’s special forces, terrorists used heavy artillery, including grenade launchers and portable anti-aircraft missile launchers,” the minister said.

Reuters reported that its photographer had seen a Ukrainian military helicopter open fire on the edge of Sloviansk, while its reporter heard gunfire during the early-morning assault. Russia slammed Ukraine's action, with President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling the offensive “punitive” and saying it effectively destroyed the “final hope” of a peace deal hashed out in Geneva between the U.S., Russia, Europe and Ukraine in March, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.

An AFP reporter on Twitter wrote that at least one military armored personnel carrier had been seized by the rebels, while a journalist for The New York Times said that the rebels were “on alert, readying to fight.”

The action in Sloviansk marked a heightened military response by Kiev, which has been largely unsuccessful in recent attempts to purge the pro-Kremlin rebels from the region.
As recently as Tuesday, Turchynov, the acting president, acknowledged that a significant portion of the nation was beyond the government's grasp.

Sloviansk has been the main flashpoint in the deepening crisis in eastern Ukraine. Armed pro-Russian separatists demanding a referendum on secession and joining Russia have seized several key government buildings in Sloviansk and surrounding cities, and have taken several hostages, including journalists and military observers. Most remain held captive, reportedly in the basement of the city’s security services building.
Meanwhile, the southern port city of Odessa erupted in violence when a pro-Ukrainian group clashed with rival separatist supporters. One man was shot dead and several others were injured when the groups exchanged smoke grenades, paving stones and “explosive devices” during the bloody clashes, Ukrainian police said in a statement.
Live video from the scuffle in the mostly Russian-speaking seaside tourist town showed several people on both sides with bloody wounds to their heads and other parts of their bodies. Cars had their windows shattered and at least one building appeared to burn after a Molotov cocktail was tossed inside.
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As Kiev unleashes battle helicopters and APCs on Slavyansk, EU says it is… 'concerned'

Published time: May 02, 2014 17:58
(L) An anti-goverment separatist guards a checkpoint as tyres burn in front of him, near the town of Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine May 2, 2014 (Reuters) (R) An anti-government protester runs trough the rubble after violence erupted in the Independence Square in Kiev February 20, 2014 (Reuters)
(L) An anti-goverment separatist guards a checkpoint as tyres burn in front of him, near the town of Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine May 2, 2014 (Reuters) (R) An anti-government protester runs trough the rubble after violence erupted in the Independence Square in Kiev February 20, 2014 (Reuters)
As Ukraine’s new authorities unleash heavy weaponry on Slavyansk, blockading civilians in the town, the EU says it is “concerned” and has called on pro-autonomy protesters to end their “illegal actions.”
The European Union, a fierce supporter of Kiev’s new authorities, said it is watching the events unfold in eastern Ukraine.

"We are following with growing concern the events in eastern Ukraine," Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, told reporters.

Kiev has intensified its military operation in eastern Ukraine, with the army surrounding the anti-government stronghold of Slavyansk, blockading civilians inside with military helicopters and APCs on Friday morning. Two pilots have died, and self-defense forces in Slavyansk said that one of their members was killed.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has urged for the creation of humanitarian corridors for the civilian population, Andrey Kelin, Russia's permanent representative to the organization, told RIA Novosti.

While Kiev has chosen the path of military strikes, the EU has called on anti-government activists and self-defense forces – which have occupied government buildings in the city – to end “illegal actions.”

"Occupied buildings need to be vacated, all persons illegally detained need to be released, including the OSCE military observers," Kocijancic said.
In February, as events unfolded at Kiev's Independence Square, the EU spoke in a heightened rhetoric, “condemning the violence” at the EuroMaidan protests.
Anti-government Maidan protesters threw stones at police as officers responded with tear gas and stun grenades. The violence resulted in many casualties. European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton responded to the events in a February statement, saying she “condemns all use of violence,including against public or party buildings” and urged the country’s political leadership to resolve the crisis.

(L) Ukrainian soldiers take position at a checkpoint they seized in the early morning in the village of Andreevka, 7 kms from the centre of the southern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, on May 2, 2014 (AFP Photo) (R) An aerial view shows Independence Square during clashes between anti-government protesters and Interior Ministry members and riot police in central Kiev February 19, 2014 (Reuters)
(L) Ukrainian soldiers take position at a checkpoint they seized in the early morning in the village of Andreevka, 7 kms from the centre of the southern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, on May 2, 2014 (AFP Photo) (R) An aerial view shows Independence Square during clashes between anti-government protesters and Interior Ministry members and riot police in central Kiev February 19, 2014 (Reuters)

Regarding the Slavyansk military operation, Moscow now states that Kiev’s offensive has destroyed the last vestige of hope for implementing the Geneva agreement on de-escalating the Ukrainian crisis.

"While Russia is making efforts to de-escalate and resolve the conflict, the Kiev regime has chosen military aviation strikes on peaceful residential areas and started a punitive operation, literally destroying the last hope for the viability of the Geneva accords,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Friday in response to the military’s advancement. Russia, the US, the EU, and Ukraine adopted a joint document on the de-escalation of the Ukraine crisis after talks in Geneva on April 17. One of the key points of the deal was the decision to refrain from any violence.
During a UN Security Council meeting in New York at the end of April, Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said that Kiev had not taken any steps towards fulfilling the Geneva agreements. He also stressed that repressions against those disagreeing with Kiev’s coup-imposed authorities were continuing.

Investigative journalist Pepe Escobar told RT that the activists in eastern Ukraine are not pro-Russian and merely want to be more independent from the coup-imposed government, with which they disagree.

“They are not pro-Russian, they want a united Ukraine, a federalized Ukraine, a Finlandized Ukraine that is not allied with the EU and NATO or with Russia; it’s equidistant. And they want more autonomy in the eastern and southern provinces. This is what those 'militants' want in fact. And now they are being confronted by guns.”
He added that sooner or later, the “Ukrainian neo-Nazi, neo-fascist militias fighting for a bunch of regime changers in Kiev and using what is left of the Ukrainian army to attack and encircle a city” will be attacking civilians.

Where is the UN in all this?” he asked.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

US: Extremism, a regional problem

US: Extremism, a regional problem
A few months before the decision for Albania’s European Union candidate status, which will be taken in June, the Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of State, Willian Burns, held a meeting with the Albanian Foreign Minister at the United States Department of State.

The meeting is being held while Albania is lacking votes from several European Union countries for the status. In this context, the message takes a new significance.

The meeting is held also in a time when the United States Department of State published the report on terrorism for 2013, in which they consider as a serious case the people who leave our region to fight in Syria. Burns encouraged the steps taken by the Albanian government in this direction, and the regional cooperation against this phenomenon.

Bushati received from the State Department good evaluations for Albania’s engagement with the United States in a series of international challenges, and valued the Albanian stances on Ukraine, and the sending of observers in this country.

The United States of America also confirmed the support for the building of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, which will bring gas to Europe from Azerbaijan, especially now that the Ukraine crisis showed the need of diversifying the natural gas options.

The United States confirmed the support on Albania in this first meeting of this level after the negotiations for the chemical weapons. The Head of the Albanian diplomacy met with the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, and Vice President Joe Biden, during the Conference of the Atlantic Council In Washington D.C.

MUP unit in Kosovo as part of "planned activity"

BELGRADE -- The Ministry of Interior has said that members of the Serbian Army, and MUP's Gendarmerie on Tuesday conducted a joint reconnaissance activity with KFOR.
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)
This went "in line with the Kumanovo Agreement," said the MUP.
Responding to media reports that the Gendarmerie entered the territory of Kosovo and Metohija on Tuesday, the ministry said that a "previously planned and arranged joint reconnaissance activity was conducted on April 29 by commissions of the VS General Staff and the KFOR command."

The activity was conducted "with active involvement of representatives of the army and the Gendarmerie, in line with the Kumanovo Agreement," the ministry's statement said.

The Priština-based Albanian language daily Lajm reported that the Gendarmerie entered the territory of Kosovo near the Karačevo village and that locals "alerted KFOR."

Members of the Serbian Army and of MUP's Gendarmerie are deployed in the Ground Safety Zone, along the administrative line with Kosovo.

Ukraine crisis: Pro-Russian activists clash with police in Donetsk

By Arwa Damon and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
May 1, 2014 -- Updated 1741 GMT (0141 HKT)
Watch this video

Fear reigns along Ukrainian roads

  • NEW: Donetsk health authority says 26 people sought medical help, 4 with gunshot wounds
  • IMF chief says $17.1 billion bailout for Ukraine is not without risk but is necessary
  • Christine Lagarde: Russia has seen "consequences" for its actions in Ukraine
  • Ukraine says it is expelling a Russian naval diplomat after alleged spying activities
Donetsk, Ukraine (CNN) -- Pro-Russian activists and Ukrainian riot police clashed Thursday inside the compound of the prosecutor's office in the eastern city of Donetsk, as simmering tensions escalated into violence.
As a result of the clashes, 26 people sought medical help, four of them for gunshot wounds, the Donetsk regional administration's health department said. Two remain hospitalized.
At least one police officer was injured in the clashes, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said, adding that shots were fired and small grenades and stones were used in the attack.
Police fired tear gas and stun grenades in an effort to disperse the activists, who were armed with clubs, batons and shields but did not appear to be carrying firearms.
Separatists seize buildings in Ukraine
Ukrainians condemn hostage takers
Ukraine hoping for return of stolen funds
Photos: Crisis in Ukraine Photos: Crisis in Ukraine
Some of the activists smashed windows and broke down doors as they sought to enter the building.
"We're going floor to floor looking for people ... for the people who were here beforehand," one of the militants said.
One woman earlier told a CNN team on the ground that she helped a wounded man who she said was shot by someone from inside the building.
Paramedics were called to help the wounded at the site Thursday afternoon.
Protest march in Donetsk, rally in Kiev
Earlier in the day, crowds marched through Donetsk, demanding greater autonomy for the restive eastern region.
At the head of the march, which was held to mark May Day, was a speaker who accused the authorities in Kiev of pushing pro-Russian supporters to a position where they are demanding a referendum on May 11 and a federal state.
Many in the region view the interim government in Kiev as a "junta" that seized power thanks to backing from ultranationalist groups, and they are angered by its actions.
Eastern Ukraine was a heartland of support for pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, ousted in February after months of protests by people upset that he had turned away from Europe in favor of Moscow.
Pro-Russian protesters already control a number of key government buildings in Donetsk, after seizing them last month, and have declared it to be the "Donetsk People's Republic."
From the industrial city's Lenin Square, where the march started, masked men could be seen atop a building next to a flag signaling support for the pro-Russian camp. The yellow and blue Ukrainian flag, which had been flying until a short time before, was thrown off the side of the building, a symbol of the spreading unrest.
Pro-Russian protesters in the city of Luhansk, closer to the Russian border, said Wednesday that they had seized additional government buildings because they wanted to be sure of holding the planned referendum.
The crisis has sparked deep divisions in Ukraine. Many also want to see the country remain united, but unhappiness about government corruption and ineffectiveness runs deep.
In Ukraine's capital, Kiev, hundreds of people joined a rally Thursday for peace and unity, organized by student and trade union groups and left-of-center parties.
The protesters called for constitutional reform, decentralization of power and new parliamentary elections.
They also called for a national referendum to decide whether Ukraine should become a federal state; if the Russian language should become the official language in some regions; and whether Ukraine should integrate with the European Union.

Turkey's aid agency to restore oldest mosque in Tirana

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
TIKA will restore the only mosque remaining from the Ottoman Empire in Tirana
TIKA will restore the only mosque remaining from the Ottoman Empire in Tirana
TIRANA, Albania - The last remaining mosque from the Ottoman Empire in Tirana, Ethem Bey's Mosque in the capital Tirana, will be restored by Turkey's aid agency - Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, reports Anadolu Agency (AA) correspondent.
The mosque's reconstruction was announced by Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Emrullah Isler on behalf of Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) during his formal visit to Albania last week.
Professor Birol Cetin, TIKA's coordinator in Albania said that work on Ethem Bey's mosque, the only remaining one from the Ottoman era out of 20 mosques in Tirana and situated in the city center, could take up to two years to restore.
"We will make a draft of the project by the beginning of May after which we will begin its implementation," said Cetin, adding that TIKA is already conducting the restoration of five mosques which began last year, two of which are restored and the other three will be completed in June this year.
"Ethem Bey really loved Istanbul which has been reflected in the architecture of the mosque in Tirana. Firstly, we shall fix the cracks in the mosque and then we will begin to repair the relics," said Cetin and added that apart from the preservation of the mosque's antiquities, the main goal is to make the mosque functional so that worshippers can attend and perform prayers.
In 1967 during the communism era in Albania, Enver Hoxha, the first secretary of the communist party either closed or destroyed the majority of mosques and churches as Albania was declared an atheist state. However, Ethem Bey's mosque miraculously remained preserved.
In the 1990's with the beginning of the democratic rule of laws in Albania, the mosque was open to worshippers again. Since then, many mosques were built in the country, but Ethem Bey's was left in a state of disrepair until now.
Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ukrainian army "on full alert," east "cannot be controled"

KIEV -- The Ukrainian army is on full alert due to "the threat of a Russian invasion,” Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has said.
(Beta/AP, file)
(Beta/AP, file)
RT reported that he made the statement "after admitting that the government in Kiev cannot control the situation in the east of the country."
According to this, he urged a speedy creation of "regional militias loyal to Kiev."

“I am going back to the real threat that Russia would unleash a continental war against Ukraine. Our armed forces have been put on full alert,” Turchynov told a council of heads of Ukrainian regions in Kiev on Wednesday.

“We must have the capability to move those units fast to support other regions against such a threat,” he said of "regional militias."

According to him, Kiev cannot get the situation in the eastern regions under control, while "some people in law enforcement are cooperating with terrorist organizations."

That is the term Kiev authorities use to refer to anti-government protesters who are seizing government buildings in eastern Ukraine, RT noted in its report.

Country Report on Terrorism 2013: 

Albania (April 30, 2014)

U.S. Embassy Tirana Logo.

Overview:  Albania held national elections in 2013, with the government changing from a coalition led by the center-right Democratic Party to one led by the center-left Socialist Party.  The change in government did not affect Albania’s overall counterterrorism efforts, with the new administration continuing the country’s strong collaboration relationship with the United States.
Albanian government institutions have been aware since 2012 that a small group of Albanians have traveled to fight in Syria.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  The Albanian government has prioritized its counter-narcotics effort and directs its limited law enforcement and border security resources against this objective, rather than against terrorism, which it has seen as a less immediate threat.  Albania criminalizes terrorist acts; recruiting and training persons to commit terrorist actions; incitement of terrorist actions; and establishing, leading, and participating in a terrorist organization.  The Albanian State Police has established a counterterrorism sector within the Directorate for Serious Crimes of the Department of Criminal Investigations.
Overall, while Albania has the political will to cooperate with countries in the region on counterterrorism initiatives, it lacked the capacity to implement effective controls.  Corruption coupled with a poorly functioning judicial system continued to hinder Albanian efforts in law enforcement.  Albania does not have the capacity to collect biometric data other than that contained on biometric identity cards presented at border crossing points.  Fingerprint data from clandestine migrants is collected, but not all border control points are equipped with live scanners, resulting in a delay in fingerprints being included in electronic databases or identification of individuals based on fingerprint data.
The Ministry of Interior maintained a name-based watchlist populated by an Albanian national wanted persons list and lost and stolen travel document information.  The database is a component of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Total Information Management System (TIMS), and it is also linked to Interpol databases.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Albania is a member of the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body; and the Albanian Financial Intelligence Unit is a member of the Egmont Group.  Since June 2012, Albania has made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and Moneyval to address its strategic anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism deficiencies.  Progress has been made but work remains to enhance the framework for international cooperation related to terrorist financing and to ensure and implement an adequate legal framework for identifying, tracing, and freezing terrorist assets. 
Albania adopted a new law on measures against the financing of terrorism to comply with the FATF and Moneyval recommendations; final review of this law by the FATF and Moneyval will occur in 2014.  Albania has adopted measures against UNSCR-listed individuals and organizations.
Based on Albanian legislation (the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism), Albanian non-profit organizations are not obliged to submit suspicious transaction reports.  However, non-profit organizations may be considered “clients” of entities subject to the law, and as a result may be subject to extended due diligence if an associated bank or financial institution considers the organization a potential “high risk client” that would require such monitoring.  For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: 
Regional and International Cooperation:  Albania’s counterterrorism participation in multilateral and regional organizations includes the UN, OSCE, NATO, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. 
Countering Radicalization to Violence and Violent Extremism:  The Government of Albania countered violent extremist narratives that attempted to exploit religious beliefs, and also actively engaged the Albanian Islamic Community, the official administrative body of the Albanian Sunni Muslim community.

Russia’s secret commander in Ukraine steps out of the shadows and he’s armed with … sound bites

This image taken from Associated Press video shows Igor Strelkov, military commander of pro-Russian militias in Slovyansk talking to journalists in Slovyansk, Ukraine, Sunday, April 27, 2014.
AP Photo/Associated Press VideoThis image taken from Associated Press video shows Igor Strelkov, military commander of pro-Russian militias in Slovyansk talking to journalists in Slovyansk, Ukraine, Sunday, April 27, 2014.

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — When shadowy commander Igor Strelkov appeared before the cameras recently in green combat fatigues and a clipped mustache, he did more than reveal the face of the insurgency rocking eastern Ukraine. He strengthened the case that Russia is behind the turmoil.
The commander did not address Ukraine and European Union assertions that he is a Russian intelligence officer. But he told journalists that he and his men entered Ukraine from Crimea, which Russia annexed in March after an insurgency that Russian President Vladimir Putin now admits involved Russian troops. Strelkov’s assertion that many of the insurgents are not locals undermines rebel claims that the insurgency is a spontaneous uprising, rather than a coordinated operation backed by outside forces.
“The militia is of course strongly sprinkled with volunteers from other regions,” Strelkov said in a taped interview with Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda. He estimated that a third of the fighters are not Ukrainian. He backtracked Tuesday in an interview with Russian TV, claiming 90 percent of the militiamen were Ukrainian.
The EU on Tuesday included Strelkov among 15 new people targeted by sanctions. EU documents identify him as a member of the Russian military intelligence agency GRU, as do Ukrainian authorities. The commander himself was cryptic about his origins in the weekend interview.
In Moscow, a flurry of drama surrounded Strelkov’s emergence, as camera crews swarmed around an apartment building that Ukrainian TV reported to be home to his mother. Neighbors told The Associated Press that a “fancy black car” had turned up Tuesday morning to whisk the woman away.
Equally murky are the origins of Strelkov’s insurgents, their operations and their weapons. They have proven themselves to be ruthless and effective, running their campaign with unerring foreknowledge of Ukrainian security operations.
Strelkov said his forces obtained their weapons partly from police buildings they had taken over, adding that his men also took arms and vehicles from Ukrainian forces they fought when they entered eastern Ukraine last month.
“Russia so far hasn’t supplied us with a single machine gun or bullet,” he said.
It wasn’t clear why Strelkov has chosen to go public now.
The insurgents are seeking more autonomy from Kiev — possibly even independence or annexation by Russia. Ukraine’s acting government and the West have accused Moscow of orchestrating the unrest, which they fear could be used as a pretext for a Russian invasion.
Albania to establishment of a new Security Agency within the Prime Minister

TIRANA - executive will soon rise at a new facility, which will collect information from security institutions in the country and after filtration , they will be distributed to other institutions.

This was announced by Deputy / Foreign Minister Sokol Dervish, who said that the establishment of this new link to the Government is involved in a new project of the National Security Strategy, which will go for review and approval in the Assembly .

"It turns out that there is a gap in our communication between institution for security. There are some institutions that have not only on the placements are not or do not have backup specialized institutional support to meet their goals, "said the Dervish .

According to him , "information institutions especially those dealing with national security is fragmented and biased institution in the sense that each side does its work but independently".

"There are a permanent structure, analytical executive power in order to inform , to produce specialized information filtered to produce coordinated information within the meaning of the confrontation of several sources to arrive at a conclusion which is then made ​​available to the institutions you decision making to make appropriate decisions to give them appropriate advice , " said the deputy Albanian Foreign Minister/ during his speech at the Foreign Committee in the Assembly.

John Kerry rips into 'Putin's Russia' over Ukraine crisis

US secretary of state says Kremlin bent on reshaping region's security landscape and warns: 'Nato territory is inviolable'


John Kerry, addressing the Atlantic Council, has said Russia's actions in the Ukraine crisis have brought about a defining moment for Nato
John Kerry, addressing the Atlantic Council, has said Russia's actions in the Ukraine crisis have brought about a defining moment for Nato. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty
Russia was seeking to "change the security landscape of eastern Europe", John Kerry said on Tuesday, calling on Moscow "to leave Ukraine in peace."
Speaking at an event about US-Europe ties at the Atlantic Council think-tank, the US secretary of state warned that "Nato territory is inviolable", adding: "We will defend every single piece of it."
"The events in Ukraine are a wake-up call," Kerry said as fresh violence erupted in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday when thousands of pro-Russian protesters stormed key buildings in the city of Lugansk.
"Our European allies have spent more than 20 years with us working to integrate Russia into the Euro-Atlantic community. It is not as if we really haven't bent over backwards to try to set a new course in the post-Cold War era," he said.
"What Russia's actions in Ukraine tell us is that today [President Vladimir] Putin's Russia is playing by a different set of rules.
"Through its occupation of Crimea and its subsequent destabilisation of eastern Ukraine Russia seeks to change the security landscape of eastern and central Europe.
"So we find ourselves in a defining moment for our transatlantic alliance – and nobody should mistake that – and we are prepared to do what we need to do, and to go the distance to uphold that alliance.
"Our strength will come from our unity. Together we have to push back against those who want to try to change sovereign borders by force."

Ukrainian army ‘on full alert’, president admits east is beyond control

Published time: April 30, 2014 09:01
Edited time: April 30, 2014 10:31
A Ukrainian soldier stands guard in front of an armoured personnel carrier on a road at a check point near the village of Malinivka, southeast of Slaviansk, in eastern Ukraine April 29, 2014. (Reuters/Baz Ratner)
A Ukrainian soldier stands guard in front of an armoured personnel carrier on a road at a check point near the village of Malinivka, southeast of Slaviansk, in eastern Ukraine April 29, 2014. (Reuters/Baz Ratner)
The Ukrainian army is on full alert due to the “threat of a Russian invasion,” Ukraine’s acting President Aleksandr Turchinov said after admitting that the government in Kiev cannot control the situation in the east of the country.
“I am going back to the real threat that Russia would unleash a continental war against Ukraine. Our armed forces have been put on full alert,” Turchinov told Wednesday a council of heads of Ukrainian regions in Kiev, as news agencies report.
He called on the audience to speed up the creation of regional militias loyal to Kiev.

“We must have the capability to move those units fast to support other regions against such a threat,” he stressed.
Turchinov admitted that Kiev simply cannot get the situation in the rebellious eastern regions under control and reiterated earlier accusations, saying some people in law enforcement “are cooperating with terrorist organizations,” the name Kiev authorities use to refer to anti-government protesters who are seizing government buildings in eastern Ukraine.
“Our primary task is to prevent the spread of the terrorist threat to other regions of Ukraine,” he said.
In contradiction to the previous moves of the government, which included raids on protester checkpoints and other demonstrations of force, Turchinov said “as we know from the experience of Maidan, the use of force is inefficient. That’s the situation we faced in the eastern regions.”

Ukraine’s acting President Aleksandr Turchinov (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)
Ukraine’s acting President Aleksandr Turchinov (Reuters/Gleb Garanich)
Earlier on Tuesday, the acting president said in a televised address that the situation in the east of the country “demonstrated inaction, helplessness and sometimes treason” and pledged to sack many officers in eastern regions of Ukraine.
Turchinov was elected a new speaker of the parliament and appointed by the MPs to act as the country’s acting president after the previous leader, Viktor Yanukovich, was ousted following violent street protests in February.

The new authorities in Kiev are failing to deal with a wave of protests against them centered in the Donetsk Region of eastern Ukraine.
Despite announcing an “anti-terrorist operation” and amassing a large number of troops and heavy weapons in the region, the national government has failed to prevent the continued seizures of buildings there and some other eastern regions of Ukraine.
There are indications that Kiev does not have enough loyal troops to deliver on its promised protest crackdown. On several occasions the troops sent against activists simply defected, surrendering their weapons and armored vehicles.

NATO Minesweepers Set Off on Baltic Deployment

The warships of the standing NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group ONE with (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
KIEL, Germany — Five NATO mine-hunting ships set off Tuesday on a deployment in the Baltic Sea, part of the alliance's efforts to strengthen its presence in Europe's ex-communist east as members there worry about Russia's intentions in Ukraine.
The ships — a minesweeper and a support ship from Norway and one mine-hunter each from the Netherlands, Belgium and Estonia — left the German port of Kiel for an exercise that will continue under Norwegian command until the end of May. Germany will then take command of the deployment.
The ships will visit several Baltic ports and also participate in previously scheduled operations to dispose of ordinance from the two world wars.
Commodore Arian Minderhoud, the NATO Allied Maritime Command's deputy chief of staff for operations, said the exercise "is part of the whole package of ... actions to show NATO's resolve, to show NATO's preparedness."
NATO said last week it was strengthening its military footprint along its eastern border.
During a visit Tuesday to the Czech capital, Prague, Canada's foreign minister stressed his country's support for NATO's eastern members. "We will stand with you in the face of aggression," John Baird said after meeting his Czech counterpart.
Last week, Canada announced it would contribute six CF-18 jet fighters to a NATO air-policing mission to be based in Poland. Baird said in Prague: "we will be making other announcements of specific projects in the coming days."

Albania pays 200-mln-dollar arrears to spur economy

TIRANA, April 29 (Xinhua) -- The Albanian government has paid 200 million U.S. dollars worth of arrears to businesses to spur economic growth, Albanian Finance Minister Shkelqim Cani said Monday.
The move should have positive effect on the economy, boosting business confidence, especially in terms of employment, Cani said at a meeting with the National Labor Council.
Since 2005, the government has owed businesses debts totalling 720 million dollars, equivalent to 5.3 percent of the country's GDP, according to the Albanian Telegraphic Agency (ATA).
Meanwhile, the government has also been mulling a legal package to improve the relationship between the administration and businesses, to guarantee a high return on investment, employment and budget incomes, Cani said.
The Albanian economy is estimated to have posted a growth of just 0.7 percent in 2013, the lowest in more than a decade, according to International Monetary Fund statistics.

"Serbia will never join sanctions against Russia"

BELGRADE -- First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić has said that Serbia will maintain its neutral position when it comes to the crisis in Ukraine.
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)
Dačić repeated that the country would never join any sanctions introduced against Russia.
"We respect the territorial integrity of each UN member-state, Ukraine included, but on the other hand, Serbia will never join any kind of sanctions against Russia because it is not only a friendly country, an economic and political partner, but a country that never introduced sanctions against Serbia," he told the daily Blic.

Dačić noted that this position would also be presented in the Council of Europe, "because it is important that Serbia maintains a principled approach."

Speaking about the dialogue with Priština, Dačić said its continuation had not yet been scheduled, and that "things are completely clear, that is, the negotiating process is on the level of prime ministers."

"That's how it was started, as well. I am ready to make my contribution to the prime minister, as much as needed," he said.

Commenting on statements coming from the opposition that "the foreign factor" influenced the composition of the new cabinet, he described them as "belonging to political fiction."

"This time a coalition was not needed to put together a government, this was exclusively a political decision of the prime minister to reach out to other political factors," Dačić said.
Photos of the Day

(Upd) About 10.000 Northern Epiriotes are actually involved to the military service in Greece, including 300 members of the Greek Elite Special forces mostly are from the Himara Region. according to sources, northern epiriotes who were born in Albania, do only three months of compulsory military service, while those who were born in Greece, make full 9 months. Greek army, has in composition about 170 thousand soldiers, active in which, the northern epiriotes, prefer to do military service in Greece, paying taxes for not to go soldiers, for the Military Service in the Albanian Army, even though both are part of NATO.   

Northern Epiriotes in the Greek Army Military Service 

Himariotes on the Special Forces Elite of the Greek Army

Monday, April 28, 2014

US Ambassador: Secrets, not in public

Arvizu: Secrets, not in public
Despite the smiles and hand-shakes, the seminary “Intelligence and Democracy” that started this Monday in one of the Ministry of Defense premises discussed the intelligence secrets, but its insinuations seemed to go only on one of the guests, the Director of the Secret Service.

“When we speak about intelligence service, we immediately think about secrecy. The main challenge that requires a solution is orienting the services and institutions that deal with the intelligence to respect the democratic system”, declared the Minister of Defense, Mimi Kodheli.

The United States Ambassador to Tirana, Alexander Arvizu, declared that the role of secret services and the parliamentary supervision are very delicate issues and that the secrets should not be made object of public debate.

“I want to underline how important is the development of a strong and fruitful work relation between government branches, such as the legislative and the executive. As part of this relation, the legislative has the obligation to write laws, to approve funds for government activities and to offer supervision that these funds and activities will be implemented properly”, Arvizu declared.

“The executive has the obligation to implement the laws as they are written and protect people through the government’s daily work. When we speak about intelligence elements, it is very sensitive, because it is understood how sensitive are the materials discussed during the commission’s sessions. These materials should not be made public”, the ambassador specified.

Besides the Secret Service leader, Visho Ajazi Lika, this seminar had Parliament Members of the Albanian Parliament, the Chief of Staff, Jeronim Baze, and military attaches in the partner countries.

New territorial division

New territorial division
The regulation of the Territorial Reform Commission was changed by the Parliament. In the first meeting after the changes, the Minister of Local Government was summoned in a session by some Parliament Members. During this meeting, the Commission passed the criteria on which will be realized the new territorial division of local governments.

The basic criteria is the creation of functional units with not less than 30.000 residents.

“We propose to deepen the application of the criteria for deciding functional areas that in the future might become the new territorial administration units. A functional area should not be bigger than the district. Within the district we may see how many functional areas we might have”, declared Bledi Cuci, Minister of Local Government.

Only the minority communes will be excluded from the criteria, which hold a cultural, historic and traditional connection.

“The minority communes might not be united in a big Municipality, because that would bring a mixture of the population and would create losses of their ethnic identity. These communes will receive a special attention”, Cuci declared.

By proposition of the Socialist Party Parliament Member, Blendi Klosi, another criteria was made clear, that of the borders between communes.

“They should remove the fear and confusion that communes might be disintegrated, or that the same territory of one commune might be divided between two districts or two municipalities”, Klosi declared.

“We think that the existing border of the commune should not be touched”, Cuci explained.

Together with the criteria, the commission approved the working program. The government has a deadline until May 15th to decide for three or four variants of the new electoral area. Regardless of the criteria, it is still difficult to decide in how many municipalities will the country be reduced to. After the new maps arrived in the commission, it will have five days for the hearing sessions and to be discussed with experts. After this process, the commission will approve the most acceptable variants that for two months will be consulted with citizens to return for approval in Parliament after July 20th, which coincides with the end of this session.

Ukraine crisis: Who will blink first, Vladimir Putin or the West?

By Ulrich Speck, political analyst, special to CNN
April 28, 2014

Pro-Russia militants, armed with baseball bats and iron bars, hold flares as they attack people marching for national unity in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Monday, April 28. Ukraine has seen a sharp rise in tensions since a new pro-European government took charge of the country in February. Moscow branded the new government illegitimate and annexed Ukraine's Crimea region last month, citing threats to Crimea's Russian-speaking majority. And in eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists have captured towns and government buildings and are holding a team of European monitors hostage.

Editor's note: Ulrich Speck is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Europe think tank in Brussels. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely his. Follow @uli_speck and @Carnegie_Europe on Twitter.
(CNN) -- Russia's seizure of Crimea last month may have unfolded with a lightning quickness, but Vladimir Putin and the West are now engaged in a much slower match of wits on a chessboard stretching across most of eastern Ukraine.
Rather than going for checkmate, both sides now seem content to wait for the other to make a mistake. Putin made a strong first move by placing 40,000 troops on the border -- and separatists, who are not officially linked to Russia, on the ground in Ukraine.
Now Moscow is waiting for the pro-Western government in Kiev to try to retake the parts of the east it has seemingly lost. In Russia's eyes, any such move from the capital would legitimize an overwhelming counterattack -- a re-run of the Georgia crisis in 2008, when President Mikheil Saakashvili lost his nerve, shot first, and prompted a Russian invasion.
Ulrich Speck
Ulrich Speck
Putin's problem is time; he cannot wait forever to strike. Troops cannot remain ready for combat for many months at a time. Separatists in eastern Ukraine are lost without outside support, and may become nervous as time drags on without any glimpse of a light at the end of the tunnel.
On the other side of the board are U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukraine's fledgling government. The biggest challenge for Obama and his German counterpart is to keep a united Western front. They need to uphold a credible threat of massive economic sanctions that could undercut the Kremlin's funding if it doesn't toe the line

But cracks in Western unity are visible everywhere. Europe may be concerned about Russian aggression in Ukraine, but the continent is dragging its collective feet on taking a more confrontational stance towards Putin.
Some nations fear Russian pressure, especially on their energy supply. Many are nervous about the price their own countries will pay as a result of tougher sanctions. And nobody is sure yet whether they're ready to abandon the idea of Russia as a vital partner.
Obama, on the other hand, is much more inclined to put the squeeze on the Kremlin. Washington is used to confrontation with Russia -- and with Putin, specifically -- and America is much less economically-connected with its old Cold War rival.
American leaders aren't motivated solely by their concern over eastern Europe and Russia reasserting itself as a more aggressive and expansionist power. The U.S. also wants to assert key norms of international order -- namely territorial integrity and the principle to change borders only with the consent of all parties.

Ukraine is also a welcome opportunity to signal to allies and rivals alike that America is not retrenching from its global engagements. The impact of the Ukraine crisis on China and the various territorial conflicts with its neighbors will also loom very large on the minds of policy makers in Washington.
But whatever the differences among U.S. and EU leaders, the more they act in concert, the better chance they have to achieve their goal: beating back Moscow's attempt to undermine Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The West also needs to make sure that Kiev's interim government doesn't lose its nerve. As hard as it is for leaders to watch pro-Russian separatists take over their buildings, any large-scale operation in eastern Ukraine could give Putin the opportunity he may be waiting for: invasion with some kind of dubious pseudo-legal cover.
It is difficult to say who is in a better position. Putin is a master tactician. Since his years as a KGB agent in Dresden in the 1980s, he has gained much expertise in finding and exploiting the West's weak spots. And he seems to have broad support at home for his confrontational brand of politics.

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