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Vader

EU freezes Yanukovych assets: Who's Next?

© Yves Herman/Reuters
British Prime Minister David Cameron (l.), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (c.) and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (r.) meet ahead of a European leaders emergency summit on Ukraine, in Brussels today
Europe is moving more assertively after misjudging the situation in Ukraine. But sanctioning Russians over the Kremlin's military intervention may be a hard sell.

In freezing the assets of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, the European Union is showing a new kind of swagger in the East-West crisis playing out on its doorstep.

The EU's black list of Ukrainian officials accused of embezzlement - which includes a total of 18 individuals, including Mr. Yanukovych's two sons - sets the tone as the leaders of the EU meet for an emergency summit in Brussels on Russia's interference in Ukraine.

It also comes as the EU offered a significant amount of aid to help the new Ukrainian government avert financial collapse. On Wednesday it announced $15 billion in grants and loans to the troubled nation.

These moves, within 48 hours of one another, mark a change in attitude and approach on the part of the EU, which has been accused of ambivalence and naivete leading up to the crisis.
Stock Down

London's lucrative ties to Russia may stymie sanctions debate

© Getty Images
Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich
Britain's Office for National Statistics says as many of the country's residents were born in Mauritius and Cyprus as in Russia.

The fact British newspapers haven't coined Mauritian or Cypriot equivalents to "Londongrad" and "Moscow-on-the-Thames" to describe the capital underlines the special social and economic impact Russians have had on Britain in the past decade and a half.

The importance of Russia to British businesses means the cost of imposing tough sanctions against Russia after its troops took control of Crimea could be higher than British Prime Minister David Cameron is willing to pay.

"Amidst all the calls for action on Ukraine, there will be voices cautioning on the need to look more at interests closer to home, and to weigh them in the balance" said Nicholas Redman, Senior Fellow, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank.

Soviet-born billionaires occupy three of the top five slots in The Sunday Times newspaper's Rich List, Britain's most read ranking of wealth, and are prolific buyers of trophy assets such as 100 million pound ($170 million) mansions, soccer clubs and newspapers such as London's Evening Standard.

One of London's most visible Russian oligarchs, Roman Abramovich, spent 59 million pounds to buy Chelsea Football Club in 2003 and the Daily Mail newspaper calculated last year he had spent 713 million pounds on players since then.
Bulb

Russia wants IMF to move ahead on reforms without U.S. - sources

© REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST
Russia's Finance Minister Anton Siluanov holds a news briefing after a G20 meeting at the start of the annual IMF-World Bank fall meetings in Washington, October 11, 2013.
Russian officials are pushing for the International Monetary Fund to move ahead with planned reforms without the United States, which could mean the loss of the U.S. veto over major decisions at the global lender, sources said.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov brought up the idea at a meeting of top finance officials from the Group of 20 nations in Sydney late last month, two G20 sources told Reuters this week.

The failure of the U.S. Congress to approve IMF funding has held up reforms agreed in 2010 that would double the Fund's resources and give more say to emerging markets like China.

The United States is the only country that holds a controlling share of IMF votes, meaning its approval is necessary for any major decision to go forward.
Black Magic

Outlaw and Hypocrite-in-Chief Obama says Crimean move to join Russia violates international law - Jaw dropping double standards!

© Express Press

President Obama authorized the Treasury Department on Thursday to impose sanctions on "individuals and entities" responsible for Russia's military takeover in Crimea or for "stealing the assets of the Ukrainian people."

The financial measures, and a separate ban on U.S. visas, are part of the administration's effort to squeeze Russia into pulling back its troops in Crimea, an autonomous, pro-Russia region of Ukraine that does not recognize the country's new Western-backed leaders.

The U.S action came as European Union leaders gathered in Brussels to consider similar measures. "Our international unity is on display at this important moment," Obama said in a statement at the White House.

But E.U. measures ultimately fell somewhat short of those imposed by the United States. In a communique, the Europeans said that they will "decide on additional measures, such as travel bans, asset freezes" and cancellation of an upcoming E.U.-Russia summit, "in the absence" of Russian movement and results within the next few days.

Obama dismissed as "unconstitutional" a planned referendum in Crimea over whether people there want to remain part of Ukraine, saying that "any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine."

"In 2014," he said, "we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders."

Comment: War Whores want your money: Military's top general propaganda on nation's defense

Candle

Russia, Israel and Media Omissions

putin berezovsky
© Reuters/AFP/Getty Images
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Boris Berezovsky. Berezovsky can not manipulate Russia to serve Israel's interests since Putin came to power and put a stop to the Oligarchs' anti-Russian plans.
As is often the case with AP's coverage of news having to do with Israel, there's a serious omission in its reporting on the Russia-Israel connection even when it involves oil and the United States.

The day after the State of the Union Address, two Interpol fugitives attended the "National Prayer Breakfast" held in Washington DC. The day before that, these fugitives from the law were the guests of honor at an hour-long meeting of the International Relations Committee on Capitol Hill, invited by ranking Democrat Tom Lantos (Calif.)

You would think it would be hot news when wanted men being hunted by European police suddenly pop up in the US particularly on Capitol Hill and at events attended by the US president.

Comment: A relevant background story to the events that we witness today.
Camouflaged Israeli soldiers on Maidan Square

Quenelle - Golden

Rightfully so, Russia slams EU over threat of sanctions

Russian Foreign Ministry
© Agence France-Presse
Russian Foreign Ministry
Russia says it will not capitulate to the European Union's threat of sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine and will retaliate if the restrictions are imposed.

The remarks were made in a statement released on Friday by the Russian Foreign Ministry, in which Moscow also accused the bloc of taking an "extremely unconstructive position."
"Russia will not accept such language of sanctions and threats, but in the event of their implementation in practice they will not be left without a response," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in the statement, adding, "At this delicate moment...the EU has taken an extremely unconstructive stance by refusing to cooperate with Russia in areas important for our countries' citizens and business circles."

Comment: China and India are not alone: Germans, Czechs, Greeks, Cypriots oppose sanctions against Russia

Thing is, this entire "sanctions against Russia" shtick is so ridiculous, simply because Russia holds all the cards!

Binoculars

Camouflaged Israeli soldiers on Maidan Square

© Voltaire
"Delta", the commander of the camouflaged Israeli unit.
According to the Israeli website alyaexpress-news.com, a unit of 35 armed and masked men and women on Maidan square is commanded by four former Israeli Army officers, who wear a kippah under their helmets.

The site claims that these former officers, who live today in Ukraine, joined the movement since the beginning of the events alongside the Freedom Party (Svoboda), although the latter has a reputation for being virulently anti-Semitic.

With the help of the Israeli Embassy, this intervention force reportedly also handled the transfer of 17 seriously injured persons to Israel for treatment.
Eye 2

As Russian troops in the Crimea, Ukraine hit 16,000, U.S. Department Of Defense orders them to go home

© Reuters
While it has gotten to the point where the propaganda is so bad on both sides of the Ukraine crisis, that any numbers thrown about are ridiculous, made up gibberish more fabricated than anything the Chinese Department of Truth or US Bureau of Labor can possibly goalseek, it is worth pointing out that according to AP, Ukraine's ambassador to the UN said 16,000 Russian troops are now deployed in the Ukraine. This was "revealed" at the third emergency Security Council session meeting in the last four days, shortly after Ukraine's fugitive president requested Russian soldiers in the strategic Crimea region "to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order," Russia's U.N. ambassador said Monday, contradicting the president's own comments last week.

However, while Russian hypocrisy is to be expected - after all they are the "Evil Empire" to quote a famous actor and president - it is the humor from the self-appointed moral watchdog of all the world's evils, the US, that was the highlight of today's UN session:
"U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power dismissed Moscow's contention that it intervened militarily in Crimea to protect the human rights of Russian civilians there as "baseless," insisting there is no evidence of any threats against ethnic Russians in Ukraine."

"One might think that Moscow has just become the rapid response arm of the High Commissioner for Human Rights," she told the council. "Russian military action is not a human rights protection mission."
Speaking of high commissioners for human rights, at least Russia never invaded a country using made up WMDs as pretext, and did not almost launch World War III to satisfy a nat gas-rich ally over a fabricated YouTube clip. Oh, and all that "innocent civilian casualty" drone stuff too.
Light Saber

Dissent among EU ranks: Germans, Czechs, Greeks, Cypriots oppose sanctions against Russia

stop the madness
The Greek, Cypriot Opposition Leaders Denounce EU's Ukraine Policy and Sanctions against Russia.

In a statement released following the meeting in Athens between Panos Kammenos, leader of the Independent Greeks party, and Giorgos Lillikas, leader and founder of the Citizens Movement of Cyprus, and former Cypriot Presidential candidate, denounced the EU support for the unelected, nondemocratic government of Ukraine and proposal for sanctions against Russia. They also attack the European Union bailout and memorandums imposed on Greece and Cyprus.

Kammenos stated that the two leaders expressed concern for the situation "that has emerged in Ukraine with the recognition of an undemocratically non-elected government from the EU side" and expressed that they are "particularly concerned by the debate that is imposing an embargo, particularly with regard to equipment, because this potential embargo essentially affect only two countries in the European Union: Cyprus and Greece."
Headphones

Scandalous! Secret Sarkozy recordings spark uproar in French right party

© Reuters/Yves Herman
Recordings made in secret by Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign adviser posted on Wednesday have thrown the former French president's UMP party into disarray, weeks before local elections in which it hoped to claw back terrain from the ruling Socialists.

In the recordings posted on the right-leaning Atlantico web site, Sarkozy can be heard discussing electoral strategy, a cabinet reshuffle and his public image in the run-up to France's 2012 presidential election, which he lost.

While the excerpts are more intriguing than incriminating, analysts said more revelations from what are apparently hours of recordings could hurt his chances of staging a political comeback in time for presidential elections in 2017.

The lawyer for campaign manager Patrick Buisson confirmed the authenticity of the recordings to Reuters but denied allegations his client leaked them, and said they were stolen.

A former editor of a far-right magazine who helped engineer a right-ward shift to Sarkozy's campaign, Buisson made the tapes as a matter of historical record and because he could not take written notes, said his lawyer Gilles-William Goldnadel.
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