Oliver Stone’s film on Ukraine’s Maidan coup to be aired in Russia

Russian channel REN TV is to become the first broadcaster to show the documentary ‘Ukraine on Fire’ produced by Academy Award winner Oliver Stone. The film revolves around the bloody armed coup in Kiev that took place three years ago.

The documentary shot by Ukrainian director Igor Lopatonok was screened at the Taormina International Film Festival in Italy earlier this year, but the general public hasn’t had a chance to see it yet.

Stone conducted interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who was ousted by the protesters in 2013.

The Russian leader explained his reasons for deploying troops in Crimea and his view of why the former Ukrainian region voted to reunite with Russia.

Ukrainian head-of-state-turned-fugitive Viktor Yanukovich recalls what he believes was an attempt on his life.

Investigative journalist Robert Parry, who is famous for his role in uncovering the Iran-Contras affair in the 1980s, talks about how neoconservative US politicians played a part in creating the turmoil in Ukraine.

The documentary will be broadcast on November 21, the date Ukraine’s post-coup authorities made a national holiday to mark the events of 2013.

Meanwhile, a petition that describes the film as “provocation” has been launched online demanding that the Ukrainian authorities ban the channel for showing Stone’s documentary.

“If the staff of Ren TV wants us to open our doors to them, they should think how they would explain themselves to the customs officers and HR specialists,” the petition signed by over 10,000 people threatens.

The channel said it will show the documentary despite the threat, however.

Earlier, Ukrainian diplomats tried to convince the French government to ban a French TV channel from broadcasting another documentary about the Ukrainian protests. Paris declined and Canal+ ran the film Masks of Revolution by Paul Moreira several times.

  • Published in Culture

Obama, EU leaders agree to keep anti-Russian sanctions over Ukraine

US President Barack Obama and EU leaders have agreed to keep anti-Russian sanctions in place for a further year over the situation in Ukraine.

President Obama, who is on his final official visit to Europe, met with the leaders of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK on Friday.

Among the main topics on the agenda were extending sanctions against Russia, cooperation within the framework of NATO, the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, and possible new anti-Russian sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Syria.

"The leaders agreed on the necessity of working collectively to move the transatlantic agenda forward, particularly on bringing stabilization to the Middle East and North Africa, as well as securing diplomatic resolution to the conflicts in Syria and eastern Ukraine," the White House said in the statement.

READ MORE: Russian sanctions cost Italy €7bn and up to 200,000 jobs – Italian MP

"The leaders also affirmed the importance of continued cooperation through multilateral institutions, including NATO," the White House added.

Sanctions won’t stop Russia from improving its dialogue and ties with other countries, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

We [Russia] have never initiated sanctions. These [sanctions] don’t prevent us from building dialogue and continuing the dialogue on matters that are of interest to us, to Russia,” Peskov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and outgoing US President Obama are likely to talk informally on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific summit in the Peruvian capital of Lima, Peskov said on Friday.

“The two administrations have not agreed on any separate meetings, but we can assume that President Putin and President Obama will cross paths on the sidelines of the forum and will talk,” Peskov said.

READ MORE: EU’s dialogue with Russia should be ‘correct and pragmatic’ – Italian FM

Also on Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gave a speech at an event hosted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), where he said that Europe and the United States “are close economic and trade partners” and mentioned potential threats for the alliance.

“Russia, breaking international law. Turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East. The refugee and migration crisis. International terrorism. Hybrid warfare. And cyber-attacks,” said Stoltenberg, listing the perceived dangers.

  • Published in World

Putin Can Travel to Crimea Whenever He Wants, Russia Says

Moscow, Oct 27 (Prensa Latina) Russian President Vladimir Putin can travel to Crimea whenever he considers it necessary, because that is an internal affair of that country, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitri Peskov said on Thursday.

Putin has the right to visit any Russian region whenever he decides to do so and that does not concern any other state at all, including Ukraine, added Peskov in response to a note of protest from Kiev.

Ukrainian authorities protested against Putin's participation in a regional meeting of the All-Russia Patriotic Front that he leads in the coastal resort of Yalta, on the Peninsula of Crimea.

Traditionally, Ukraine objects the visits by high-level Russian officials to Crimea and we, traditionally, reject it, the presidential spokesman said.

On Wednesday, the Russian president responded to citizens' and social organizations' concerns about internal problems in Crimea, including its transport and hotel infrastructures, the development of sports and other social aspects.

In September, Putin traveled to Crimea to attend a meeting of the presidium of the Council of State, and in August, he participated in the Tavrida youth forum.

After the coup d'état in February 2014 against then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, right-wing and neo-fascist organizations occupied administrative buildings by force in several Ukrainian regions.

At the time, Crimea's legitimate authorities resorted to an article of the Ukrainian Constitution to hold a referendum in March 2014 about the sovereignty of the peninsula, which was a part of Russia until 1954.

More than 95 percent of voters supported Crimea's exit from Ukraine and its incorporation into Russia.

Later, the Russian head of State decided that the issue on the jurisdiction of the peninsula of Crimea was closed, as Moscow considers that it was dealt with according to international law and the United Nations Charter.

  • Published in World

Unity, but not unanimity? NATO split on countering Russia amid Warsaw summit

NATO leaders are meeting in Warsaw to show the alliance will stand firm against new threats, including a “resurgent Russia.” But low-key discord inside its ranks suggest some members’ willingness to confront Moscow is far from rock-solid.

The 2016 NATO summit opened in the Polish capital on Friday, said to be of paramount importance to both the Atlantic and Europe facing uneasy post-Brexit negotiations and what the bloc calls a “resurgent” Russia.

“This may be the most important moment for our transatlantic alliance since the end of the Cold War,” US President Barack Obama claimed in a pre-summit article he penned for the Financial Times. “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine threatens our vision of a Europe that is whole, free and at peace.” 

“NATO will once again send a very clear message that we are here,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg echoed the US President, mentioning deployment of troops, military infrastructure and hardware closer to Russia’s borders. 

Despite the hawkish statements, Stoltenberg said the alliance wants “a meaningful and constructive dialogue with Russia” to reduce risks, increase predictability and enhance transparency “in times like these.”

NATO’s massive build-up in the three Baltic countries and Poland is officially labeled “assurance measures,” but not everyone in the alliance is keen to take part in what German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier recently called “saber-rattling and warmongering.”

Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance's eastern border will bring security is mistaken,” Steinmeier said in defiance of multiple war games in the region. A recent YouGov poll found that 64 percent of Germans agreed with his statement, with only 16 percent rejecting it. 

German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, an influential yet moderate politician, said NATO must revise its policy.

“We must ask if the world would be a better place when both sides conduct military exercises on the borders and arm themselves,” he told Passauer Neue Presse on Thursday, adding that it is time for Europe to start a new “disarmament initiative.”

All Russian warplanes will fly over Baltic with transponders on, if NATO does the same

Italy, another European military power, recently said it is wary of NATO’s hardline policy towards Russia. The alliance should "build bridges" in Eastern Europe and cooperate with Moscow to tackle global terrorism, Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti told Corriere della Sera on Wednesday. 

"We agree with what Steinmeier has said," she added.

According to a Pew Research Center’s June study, only 34 percent of Europeans believe Moscow endangers the continent, tapping instead Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and economic instability as primary challenges to be tackled. 

Moscow, which has always opposed NATO’s build-up in its neighborhood, said it is “closely watching” the Warsaw summit and keeping the door for dialogue open.

“We hope common sense will prevail,” the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday.

“It is absurd to speak of a threat coming from Russia when dozens of people are being killed in the heart of Europe, while hundreds die in the Middle East every day,” he stressed. Peskov added that NATO’s “anti-Russian hysteria” and multiple troop deployments do not help find common ground for cooperation.

Currently, the bloc plans to deploy four multinational battalions in the Baltic States and Poland, supplemented by around 1,200 combat vehicles, including 30 aircraft. The build-up also involves drastic increase in scale and pace of large-scale exercise taking place all across Eastern Europe on land and at sea.

“NATO has …military expenditures 12 times bigger than [that of] Russia,” Jan Oberg, peace studies professor, told RT on Friday. “Today we have intellectual dwarfs running NATO and many of the European states who have no idea about conflict resolution and reconciliation.”

The Russian military said it was forced to respond to the emerging security challenge with adequate defensive measures, including creation of new army divisions and strengthening of Navy’s Baltic and Black Sea Fleets.

“We are always accused of some kind of military activity. Where? On our territory. But the things happening on our border – that’s OK,” President Vladimir Putin said in late June.

  • Published in World

Lavrov: Policy of restraining Russia continues, high time to drop it

The US and the EU are still pursuing a dangerous policy of restraining Russia, including the NATO military build-up near its borders, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said, adding that Moscow is ready to cooperate on an equal and mutually beneficial basis.

“The policy of restraining Russia continues, though it is high time to drop this policy and file it in the historical archives,” Lavrov told a media briefing in Moscow.

He agreed that relations between Moscow and the West would never be the same again.

“Our western colleagues say sometimes that there will be no more ‘business as usual’ with Russia – and I’m confident that statement is absolutely correct,” Lavrov said.

“There will be no more business as usual after they attempted to impose agreements on us respecting the interests of either the European Union or the US in the first place, trying to convince us that they will not damage our interests,” he said. “That’s over now.”

Russia concerns won’t restrict NATO missile defense – US official

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Moscow is ready for “close, constructive cooperation” with its western partners, yet solely and only on an equal and mutually beneficial basis, “without interference into each other’s internal affairs, with respect for the principal interests of each side,” Lavrov said.

Western countries are still trying to “accrue one-sided benefits" and even attempting "to punish us for conducting an independent international policy,” Lavrov said.

“Of course, we take that into account in our actions. But that’s not our choice.”

NATO's build-up near Russia’s borders is shortsighted, the Russian foreign minister said, adding that Moscow would keep an eye on the concentration of military potential in neighboring countries.

"Now we see the counterproductive and dangerous policy in relations with Russia, including the build-up of NATO's military potential near our borders and the creation of global European and Asian segments of a global US missile defense," Lavrov said.

He added that Moscow considers such actions destabilizing and shortsighted.

Hype surrounding Litvinenko case will ‘worsen’ Russian-British relations

The hype surrounding the Aleksandr Litvinenko case is going to “definitely worsen” Russian-British relations, Sergey Lavrov acknowledged.

Speaking on the conclusions of the public investigation regarding the death of the former FSB officer Litvinenko, who died of polonium poisoning in London in 2006, Lavrov called attention to the “gravest accusations brought against the Russian leadership without providing any evidence at all.”

Lavrov added that should “a savvy lawyer take up the case and analyze the facts and the statements made by the British policymakers, they could be held liable for libel.”

Moscow not interested in crumbling EU

“We’re not interested in the EU getting weaker, leave alone the union splitting up. We are interested in a united and strong European Union, a comfortable partner on the economy and all other issues. But we cannot fail to see the current developments,” Lavrov went on, emphasizing the decisive role of Germany in maintaining EU’s unity.

Syrian peace talks impossible without Kurds

No peace talks to resolve the Syrian crisis can be successful without the Syrian Kurds participating in them, Lavrov said. Yet the final decision on whether to invite the Kurds remains with the UN's Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, and Moscow is not going to veto it.

“We’ve been hearing from certain members of the international Syrian support group, I’d say from one member, doubts about whether the Syrian Kurds, more specifically the Democratic Union Party [PYD], should be invited to the talks. I believe that without that participant the talks will fail to deliver the result we expect, which is a final political settlement in Syria,” Lavrov said, pointing out that the Kurds make up to 15 percent of Syria’s population and inhabit a “considerable, moreover crucial territory.”

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Ukraine crisis

Official Kiev perceives Western sanctions against Russia as a license to ignore the conditions of the Minsk-2 agreements, Lavrov said.

“Prolongation of the sanctions is being taken for the West’s agreement that Kiev could abstain from fulfilling the agreements,” he stated.

“We don’t want anyone to form policies out of misconception that it is Russia, not Ukraine, who must fulfill the Minsk-2 agreements,” Lavrov warned, noting that contacts with Victoria Nuland suggest that the US understand the essence of Minsk-2 agreements well.

North Korean ‘thermonuclear test’ questionable

Moscow is not sure that Pyongyang tested a thermonuclear device on January 6, Lavrov said.

If it was actually a thermonuclear test, that would mean that the UN resolution, introducing stiff restrictions on the supply of nuclear materials to North Korea, is not working and that Pyongyang is still managing to acquire what it needs for its military nuclear program, Lavrov said.

“If the test was an explosion of yet another ‘regular’ nuclear device – then the restrictions do work,” he said.

The Russian foreign minister stressed that there should be no nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula at all, either North Korean or South Korean, nor the “elements of American nuclear weapons that should not be deployed to South Korea.”

The nuclear security of the Korean peninsula cannot be discussed without Pyongyang, Lavrov added.

“We’ve heard those proposals from South Korea to hold a 6-1 meeting, without North Korea. I don’t think this is a good idea, because once again it would mean we’re trying to isolate someone,” Lavrov said, instancing Iran as a country that expanded its nuclear program with a “colossal momentum” with wide international sanctions in place.

  • Published in World
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