A Comedian Just Became UKraine’s Next President

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

A comedian just became Ukraine’s next president

Volodymyr Zelensky rode a populist, anti-corruption message straight to the presidency.

Volodymyr Zelensky was just voted in as Ukraine’s next president. Here he talks to journalists after taking a drug and alcohol test at the Eurolab diagnostic center on April 5, 2019.
 Pyotr Sivkov\TASS via Getty Images

Ukrainians on Sunday overwhelmingly voted to make a comedian their next president — ushering in a new era of politics in the struggling country.

Volodymyr Zelensky, a famous comedian who portrayed Ukraine’s head of state for years on a popular comedy show, defeated the incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko, who had been in power since 2014.

According to exit polls, Zelensky won a staggering 73 percent of the vote. Poroshenko conceded the race not long after polls closed.

It’s all quite the rise for an ordinary guy who, well, played an ordinary guy-turned-president on television.

Zelensky — or “Ze,” as he’s more popularly known — has no prior political experience and hasn’t offered a detailed blueprint for how he would govern. But he struck a populist, anti-corruption message during the campaign that clearly resonated with millions of Ukrainians suffering from poverty and government graft. That, plus his previous celebrity, made him a formidable force during the Eastern European country’s election.

The big question now is if he can follow through on his promises to stamp out undue oligarch influence in Kyiv and turn Ukraine’s economic fortunes around. After all, the comedian has no prior political experience and didn’t offer a detailed governing blueprint during the campaign.

Clearly, though, Ukrainians believe Zelensky embodies the change they hope he can bring to a struggling nation.

“There’s been a desire for a new face for a long time,” Melinda Haring, a Ukraine expert at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, told me before the election. “It was clear the people wanted someone without the same baggage and connections to political dinosaurs.”

Ukraine’s struggles led to Zelensky’s rise

Experts say Zelensky’s remarkable story stems from Ukrainians’ dissatisfaction with decades of failed political leadership.

“After almost 30 years of electing to the presidency either relatively pro-Russian or officially pro-Western candidates from the economic and political elite, Ukraine remains one of the poorest nations in Europe,” Andreas Umland, an expert at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv, wrote for the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank on April 16.

World Bank chart below showing Ukraine’s massive dip in gross domestic product per capita starting around 2013 illustrates this point. And while the country has been experiencing a bit of growth lately, Ukraine is still among Europe’s poorest — if not the poorest — countries.

Chart of Ukraine’s GDP per capita, 2000 to 2017.
Chart of Ukraine’s GDP per capita, 2000 to 2017.
 World Bank

The country’s troubles have led millions of Ukrainians to flee in search of a better life.

“Ukrainians just want a normal standard of living,” Haring told me, but “Ukraine has gotten poorer as Poroshenko has gotten richer.”

Since Poroshenko, who once led the very successful company Roshen, took power in 2014 corruption only worsened as the government’s ties to oligarchs have strengthened. That made it harder for Ukraine to attract foreign investment and help the country’s economy rebound.

In February, Ukraine’s finance minister said that if the country grows at the same economic rate for 50 years — a big if — Ukraine will have the same economic strength as Poland. That, to put it mildly, isn’t an optimistic outlook it may take a half-century to become a European economic success story.

So while Poroshenko got high marks from many for pushing back against Russia’s invasion of parts of Ukraine’s east and south, a record he touted throughout the election, experts said that counted for very little.

“Poroshenko either misread the voters or thought his campaign themes — army, language, and faith — would carry the day,” Steven Pifer, the US ambassador to Ukraine from 1998 to 2000, told me on Thursday. “It looks like he greatly misjudged the electorate.”

Voters clearly wanted to hear new ideas for a new Ukraine, and that meant stemming the country’s rampant corruption and kick-starting the nation’s sputtering economy.

Poroshenko was such a symbol for Ukraine’s old ways that it was almost funny. Enter a comedian.

Zelensky represents what Ukraine wants to be

Zelensky, 41, made his name on Servant of the People, a comedy program that you can watch on Netflix in the US. It follows the life of Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko, an everyman schoolteacher who unexpectedly becomes president and takes on the nation’s oligarchs.

The actor wants to do the same thing — but now in real life.

It’s probably not surprising that such an unconventional candidate ran an unconventional campaign. He held few big rallies and rarely spoke to the press. Instead, he mainly toured the country with comedy troupes to perform in skits and make audiences laugh, experts told me. But he leveraged social media to directly connect with voters and make his pitch.

Not much is known about his foreign policy except that he is mainly pro-Western, wants Ukraine to enter the European Union, and would seek NATO membership for his country — all positions that didn’t separate him much from Poroshenko.

There are two big worries Ukrainians still have about Zelensky, however. The first, of course, is his inexperience. But Ukrainians have shrugged that off in the past, though, like when voters in Kyiv voted in 2014 to make former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko their mayor.

The second, and more important, is just how close he is to a Ukrainian oligarch: Igor Kolomoisky.

Zelensky’s show appeared on Kolomoisky’s TV channel, and the billionaire has long been a Poroshenko rival. Some worry that the comedian may simply be a tool of another Ukrainian fat cat trying to wield power, a charge Zelensky denies.

But those concerns didn’t dissuade Ukrainians from choosing Zelensky on Sunday. And so now a Ukrainian comedian who entered an election to take on the entrenched corruption in his country will be the next president. It sounds like a joke, but it’s reality.

Russia’s largest yeshiva attacked with arson and swastikas ahead of Passover

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Russia’s largest yeshiva attacked with arson and swastikas ahead of Passover

No one reported injured in fire at Torat Chaim in eastern Moscow, hours before 60 people gathered for traditional seder meal

A person inspects the damage from a fire set at the Torat Chaim Yeshiva on the eve of Passover, April 19, 2019 (Courtesy/Torat Chaim Yeshiva)

A person inspects the damage from a fire set at the Torat Chaim Yeshiva on the eve of Passover, April 19, 2019 (Courtesy/Torat Chaim Yeshiva)

MOSCOW, Russia — Jewish officials said Friday an arson fire was set at the largest yeshiva in Russia just ahead of the Passover meal celebration. Swastikas were also sprayed on the seminary.

No one was reported injured in the early Friday fire at the Torat Chaim school in an eastern Moscow suburb.

Olga Esaulova, a spokeswoman for Moscow’s chief rabbi, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the fire was set in a storage area for kosher meat and that swastikas were drawn at the yeshiva’s entrance.

There were about 60 students, rabbis and guests in the building at the time, the state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Avital Chizhik Goldschmidt

@avitalrachel

Reports from Moscow that the Torat Chaim Yeshiva was attacked last night by what seems to be neo-Nazis. Swastikas painted on the doors and the storehouse entirely burned, the yeshiva community’s precious kosher meat/food for Passover gone.

305 people are talking about this

While Russia has a long history of anti-Semitism, it has noticeably declined under Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Putin has made considerable efforts to reach out to Russian Jewish communities, both within his state’s borders and in Israel. His country’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, is a close confidante.

He has encouraged the restoration of dozens of synagogues destroyed under communism and taken a hard-line on anti-Semitism.

READ MORE:
COMMENTS

We’re Cracking Apart From The Inside, With Missiles Aimed At Our Back

We’re Cracking Apart From The Inside, With Missiles Aimed At Our Back

 

I’m sorry, but I don’t exactly like the Title either. Here in our Country we are acting like it is back in the 20’s or something ignorant like that. We have our HollyWood and our Politics, the never-ending battle between the Dems and the GOP and we pick Our Country apart. We have several outside State Players and other well-funded hate groups who are actually in the Chess Possession to make this play. Folks, I hope they do not push the ‘ignite’ button. This would be the end of the world as we all know it all because of a couple of dozen people from around whom have some Power in this world who hate us and hate everything’ the West’ stands for. Attacking us from the inside while we bicker among ourselves is a sure Cancer to our Cells.

 

Our current Government has weakened Us with our long-standing Allies and gotten off to a bad start with several other ‘not so friendly States.’ There is always the issue of other ‘unfriendliness’ such as Hezbollah, Hamas and many others. I pray for our Children, and Theirs. Hate, it is such a disgusting thing when we direct it at each other. Our System has many errors within it but it could be very much better. We need to address these things quickly before there is no tomorrow in which to be concerned about.

 

 

 

Is It Time To Kill The World’s Dictators?

Is It Time To Kill The World’s Dictators?

 

At first I was thinking of using the title ‘is it past time to kill your dictator as I am not sure which title was the most appropriate, or, is neither appropriate? In today’s world it does seem that most dictators choose to keep power in a country by fraud sham elections so as to say they are legally elected Presidents. Examples of this could be Mozambique and Robert Mugabe, Cuba with the Castro’s or even Mubarak of Egypt. I used these three as my first examples because none of the three actually died in Office. Mugabe and Mubarak were both removed from Office by their Nations military at the insistence of the will of the people. I am not nor have I ever been a fan of either of the Castro’s but surprisingly they gave up power of their own accord mainly because of age and health reasons. The Castro brothers are different in the reality that most dictators refuse to give up power until they are dead or removed from power by their military.

 

Any time that a country has a ‘one party’ political system that is simply another way to say dictatorship. Good examples of this are with Syria’s President Assad and Russia’s Putin. Then there is the illegitimate Communist government on mainland China where only the Communist Party leadership decides who will be their ‘President’ every 10 years that is until their current President Xi Jinping came into the picture. Now the Mainland has themselves a ‘President for life’ with Mr. Xi Jinping and the people have no power to get rid of him outside of killing him. Another type of example of a Dictator resides in North Korea where their Leader Mr. Kim Jong Un considers himself to be a living God even though I find it odd that the two former ‘gods’ of North Korea are dead. One of the things that these people have in common, just as in Turkey with their ‘President’ Mr. Erdogan, they are all mass murderers. Then there are cases like in Iran where the actual Leader who calls himself the ‘Supreme Leader’ whom should be known as the Supreme Murderer of Iran who has final say in all things even over the Nations President.

 

I know that by the Biblical Scriptures we are told that we should pray for our Leaders. Scripture says nothing about whether these Leaders are Kings (Dictators), Priests or honestly elected Presidents or Prime Ministers as these are just titles.  Folks, titles do not go to Heaven nor to Hell, people do. People also tells us that we are not allowed to murder anyone yet it is very plain that in cases of war we are allowed to defend ourselves and our families. We as people are also allowed to defend ourselves and families if our lives are in imminent danger such as someone who is armed breaks into our home and threatens you. This would also be so if let’s say you are in a store, a concert or a Church and a person or people come in and start shooting, we have every right to defend ourselves. Folks this does include the reality of ‘anyone’ whom is trying to kill you or your loved ones. Folks, this does mean anyone whom is trying to kill you, by this I mean if military people, police or even a Congressman or a President is actively trying to physically harm you, you have the absolute right to defend yourselves. By this I do mean (for example) what happened in Waco Texas in the early 1990’s where the government murdered over a hundred people, women and children included. This was a case where police came bursting through the doors and windows while shooting at the people inside whom had not yet shot one bullet at the Officers.

 

Now let’s get back to the issue of killing your Dictator, do you/we have the right to do so? Even though the human in me says that there should be no Dictators on the face of the Earth, this is not a reality. When it comes to G-d’s Judgement Day all Leaders will have to answer for all of their actions as Leaders both good and evil. On a smaller scale the same situation exists within a Church community as far as the Leaders who are responsible for the safety of the Flock who committed crimes against the Flock. I am not saying here that the members of the Church have the right to kill (lets say, a pedophile) though we do have the right to not allow them to be a part of the Congregation at all and we do have the right to charge them in front of our Nation’s Courts. What I am saying though is that all Church Leaders will have to answer for their actions as ‘Guardians’ of the Flock whether good or evil. So, do we have the right to kill our Dictator even if they are a murderer like Mr. Putin or Kim Jong Un? These Dictators, are they actively trying to kill you or your loved ones? When the answer is no, we have no such right to harm them, peacefully try to remove them from their position, yes, kill them, no.

 

Obviously this letter to you is just my thought, my beliefs. Like is almost all of my letters to you I am simply trying to get you to think about the issue that I am writing to you about. What are your thoughts on this matter, what do you believe? Leave me a note, let me know your thoughts?

Israel fires at missile from Syria; IDF jets said to pound Damascus arms depots

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

(Peace, no peace, ever, there is to much inbred hate and distrust on all three sides, Sunni, Shiite and Judaism,  but thats just my thought on this issue.) (oldpoet56)  

Israel fires at missile from Syria; IDF jets said to pound Damascus arms depots

No injuries or damage in Israel; Israeli planes said to be behind attack near Syrian capital against Hezbollah or Iranian depot; Damascus claims to shoot down ‘enemy targets’

A screenshot from video purporting to show a Syrian surface-to-air missile being fired near Damascus on December 25, 2018. (Screen capture: YouTube)

A screenshot from video purporting to show a Syrian surface-to-air missile being fired near Damascus on December 25, 2018. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Israel said Tuesday night it had deployed its air defenses against a missile shot from Syria as Damascus attempted to repel an alleged Israeli airstrike against Hezbollah or Iranian targets near the capital.

The Israel Defense Forces said there was no damage or injuries from the surface-to-air missile fired from Syria at Israel.

“An IDF aerial defense system activated in response to an anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria,” the army said in a statement.

It did not say where or even if the missile was successfully intercepted.

Pictures shared on social media showed an air defense missile being fired near Hadera, a city some 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the Syrian border where residents had earlier reported hearing a loud explosion.

Embedded video

Observer IL – 🅾️🅱️🔺@Obs_IL

Dashcam footage from Road 6 of the launch of an AD missile earlier near following this evening airstrikes in . @Intel_sky @IsraelD_Heb @edrormba @BabakTaghvaee @Dannymakkisyria @IntelCrab @IdeologyWars @TheWarOfNow @intellipus

23 people are talking about this

Syrian state media said its own air defenses had opened fire on “enemy targets,” shooting them down, in what was reported to be an Israeli airstrike.

Syrian eyewitnesses and video on social media showed what appeared to be intense fire on targets near the capital.

Embedded video

Zaid Benjamin@zaidbenjamin

Syrian News Agency says the “Aggression on ” continues “from the Lebanese airspace” and air defenses are responding.

20 people are talking about this

SANA said the strikes beginning at about 10 p.m. were carried out from Lebanon and that a number of targets were intercepted.

“It’s an Israeli raid,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

“Missiles fired from Israeli planes targeted… arms depots southwest and south of Damascus that belong to Hezbollah or Iranian forces,” Abdel Rahman said.

Syrian TV quoted a military source saying weapons warehouses were hit, and three Syrian soldiers wounded.

Lebanon’s National News Agency reported that Israel Air Force planes were operating over southern Lebanon.

Qalaat Al Mudiq@QalaatAlMudiq

: explosions heard over province. Air defenses fired missiles moments ago.

View image on Twitter

Qalaat Al Mudiq@QalaatAlMudiq

. Air defenses in action tonight over W. province. pic.twitter.com/xrYqMYX1E1

Embedded video

57 people are talking about this

News reports tied between the strike and the earlier arrival of an Iranian cargo jet in Damascus. The 747, belonging to Iran’s Fars Air Qeshm, had landed in Syria just after 7 p.m.

The civilian company has been accused on multiple occasions of smuggling Iranian arms to Hezbollah.

By midnight the flight was en route back to Iran.

Israel in recent years has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against targets linked to Iran, which alongside its proxies and Russia is fighting on behalf of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Israel has accused Iran of seeking to establish a military presence in Syria that could threaten Israeli security and attempting to transfer advanced weaponry to the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

In this August 27, 2013, photo, a Russian air defense system missile system Antey 2500, or S-300 VM, is on display at the opening of the MAKS Air Show in Zhukovsky outside Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, file)

The number of airstrikes in Syria attributed to Israel has dropped noticeably in recent months, after a Russian military plane was downed by Syrian air defenses during an Israeli attack on Latakia, killing all 15 servicemen aboard.

Russia blamed the Israeli military for that incident — a charge rejected by Jerusalem — and has supplied Syria with the advanced S-300 air defense system.

The S-300 systems were delivered to Syria last month, but they are not yet believed to be in use, as the Syrian air defense teams still need to be trained to operate them.

Israeli defense officials have met with Russian counterparts a number of times in recent weeks in an effort to re-establish a deconfliction mechanism that will allow Israel to recommence its air campaign.

Russia reportedly wants significant warning period ahead of any Israeli airstrike, something Israeli officials have been said to refuse.

READ MORE:

Kremlin: U.S. Must ‘Babysit’ Poroshenko After Funding Ukrainian Revolution

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLYGRAPH.INFO)

 

Kremlin: U.S. Must ‘Babysit’ Poroshenko After Funding Ukrainian Revolution


Ukraine - the first day after "victory" at the Maidan in Kyiv, 23Feb2014
Ukraine – the first day after “victory” at the Maidan in Kyiv, 23Feb2014
Dmitry Peskov

Dmitry Peskov

Russian presidential spokesman

“Too much money was invested into Ukraine, too much money was poured into the coup in Ukraine, and justifying this coup also requires too much money.”

FALSE

Claim that U.S. funded “coup” in Ukraine long-since disproven

On Thursday December 20, Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told theTASS news agency that the upcoming presidential election in Ukraine, set for March 31, 2019, is further straining bilateral relations with Russia.

“[Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko has to win electoral support by all means, because the approval of him is low compared to the rivals who have overtaken him in the electoral rating. And this is exactly what he is doing, and this is clearly visible to us all,” Peskov said.

Peskov said that despite Poroshenko’s “relatively weak electoral positions,” the United States was stuck “babysitting” him on account of the sunk cost fallacy.

“Too much money was invested into Ukraine, too much money was poured into the coup in Ukraine, and justifying this coup also requires too much money,” Peskov said.

Kremlin officials and the state media in Russia label the popular pro-EU uprising in Ukraine a “coup” when in reality the movement was civilian in nature and involved no military support.

Claiming Washington is waiting for its investment in Ukraine to “yield dividends,” Peskov said the U.S. “did not quite succeed” and now needs to do its best “to save the situation.”

“Washington has to support Poroshenko and turn a blind eye to the real situation, which is exactly what it is doing now,” he said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine flared following a November 25 incident, in which three Ukrainian ships attempting to transit through the Kerch Strait in the Sea of Azov were fired on and then captured by Russian vessels.

Tweets by the Russian foreign ministry accounts
Tweets by the Russian foreign ministry accounts

The following day, martial law was introduced in Ukraine for 30 days in the 10 regions that would be on the front lines of a military conflict with Russia.

Russian media and officials have argued that Poroshenko provoked the incident in the Sea of Azov as a pretext to introduce martial law and buoy his electoral prospects.

No media source currently available

0:001:230:43

During his annual year-end press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Poroshenko had sent Ukrainian servicemen to die in the Sea of Azov to provoke Russia and boost his approval ratings.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has gone so far as to claim that Kyiv is planning a chemical weapons attack in Ukraine’s war-torn east.

Peskov’s claim that the U.S. funded the “coup” in Ukraine is false.

While not stated explicitly, his comment is likely based on a claim promulgated by Russian state media that the U.S. invested $5 billion in the Ukrainian uprising.

Politifact reported the claim stems from a December 2013 speech by then Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, a non-governmental agency promoting democracy in Ukraine.

In that speech, Nuland said that the United States had invested over $5 billion since Ukraine’s independence in 1991 to help the country “build democratic skills and institutions” so it can “achieve its European aspirations.”

As Brian Bohm noted in the Moscow Times in May 2014: “U.S. law prohibits the funding of opposition leaders and movements, and there have been no violations of this law in Ukraine.”

Since the annexation of Crimea and Russian-backed war erupted in Ukraine in 2014, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with more than $1 billion in security assistance.

In July, the Pentagon told CNN it had released $200 million in security assistance to Ukraine.

In March, the U.S. State Department formally approved the sale of 210 Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and 37 launchers for an estimated cost of $47 million. That was the first time lethal military aid to Kyiv has been approved.

Citing the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS), the Council on Foreign Relations said the U.S. had spent $49 billion on foreign aid in 2016, around 1.2 percent of the federal budget. That included security and military assistance.

USAID, which put total U.S. obligations at $50 billion that year, said $513 million, or roughly 1% of the total, had gone to Ukraine.

The idea that U.S. support for Ukraine is based strictly on a need to “recoup an investment” and not on broader security issues in the region does not appear to be supported by the data.

As for Peskov’s argument that the U.S. funded the 2014 revolution in Ukraine, Polygraph.info finds that claim to be false.

Want To Stop WW3: To Avoid War, Russian People Must Kill Their Dictator Putin?

Damn, thats a hard statement. I had forgotten about this headline, I think it is from about two weeks ago. I have to think before I continue this article. Think about it for a moment, your talking about a Man, a Person, dying. I am not a fan of some actions that Mr. Putin has made since He has been in power. I believe that if all the People of Russia had free information, they would have no interest in big bad bloody wars, especially Nuclear Wars. Then again, this question must be directed at any Country that Is Nuclear.

President Putin could, along with President Xi Jinping of China, these two men could, if they so chose to, could pick a date, like Christmas Day or New Years Eve to start WW3 against the West. Russia cuts off all oil going through Federation States into Western Europe. China fully takes HK, Taiwan and all of the South China Sea. Having each others back, work together and they own at least two thirds of the world as long as they didn’t strike the U.S. directly, yet. If they look at our President as being weak, in any way, they have a lot to win, little to lose.

So, back to the beginning, if you were a Citizen of the Great Nation of the People of Russia and you found out these things, these what if’s, were true, could you, would kill him? Do you hear the term 1 for 1,000? How about 1 to save a hundred million? All I can say to this is, I thank G-d, that I am not G-d.

Damn… I Sure Hope I’m Wrong

Damn… I Sure Hope I’m Wrong

 

Folks this is simply the thoughts of an old man, roll with it where you will, or not. Time, age, it does give one advantage to the times people see fads come and go. I know that I am not the brightest bulb in the package but I do enjoy history and memories what one sees and understands often come from that. This article to you tonight is strictly a ‘what if’ letter and damn, I sure hope I’m wrong.

 

What If, what if President Trump is considered to be at the weakest point of his Presidency right now? What if right now even our Allies have no trust at all in Mr. Trump’s Leadership or even worse, if they consider the U.S. to now be a likely enemy? Now our real Enemies challenge U.S. authority all over the globe, Russia has been pushing the “West” for a fight over Crimea and now over the mainland of Ukraine, Mr. Putin has installed several hundred tanks facing Ukraine along their Border. Russian Naval Ships have fired on boarded and taken control of Ukraine Naval Ships.

 

If Mr. Putin and President Xi Jinping decided on a date over this Christmas Holiday to coordinate an attack on two fronts, first with Russia doing an all out attack on Ukraine and second, China doing an all out assault on Taiwan. Then of course this day would happen to be the time Hamas does an all out assault on Israel from the south and also the day Hezbollah does the same into northern Israel. My question is how would the U.S. Government and Military handle these situations, or could they in any real way enter into a WW3 situation, and win? There would also be the reality of every Three-Bit Dictator attacking whomever they choose all around the world. If the U.S. had great leaders would they take this kind of a chance? The reality is, we don’t have a mentally competent Leader in the Oval Office. So, what would happen if all of this occurred? You know folks, there is one thing that the world seems to forget about. Folks wake up, all of our ‘ways of life’ can change is just a fraction of a second with one bright flash up in the skies.

 

As I said, this was just a ‘what if’ theory and all I can honestly say is, I sure hope I’m Wrong!

Putin Raising Likelihood of War, Ukrainian Navy Chief Says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT)

Does Putin Want WW3?

Analysts predict an ‘imminent’ surge in conflict between Russia and Ukraine in and around the Black Sea.By Paul D. Shinkman, Senior National Security WriterDec. 12, 2018, at 10:23 a.m.More

Ukrainian Admiral: Putin Raising Likelihood of WarMore

Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a narrow-format meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council at Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St Petersburg.

Russian President Vladimir Putin may be planning to escalate the conflict in Ukraine, onlookers say.ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/POOL/TASS

RUSSIA APPEARS POISED to escalate hostilities in Ukraine, according to a new analysis – signs of an uptick in the broader war that the country’s top naval officer says is directed exclusively by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It is extremely centralized power in Russia. Everything is in the hands of Mr. Putin,” Ukrainian Vice Adm. Ihor Voronchenko tells U.S. News.[ 

SEE: The Week in Cartoons for Dec. 10-14 ]

Twenty-four Ukrainian sailors and seamen on Wednesday remained in Russian custody following a November encounter between the two countries’ navies and security forces in the Black Sea. Russian ships have also blocked access to the Black and Azov seas, limiting Ukraine’s ability to use critical commercial ports and raising the specter of war following four years of simmering conflict.

“I can say with 100 percent probability, all command and control in this operation was run from Moscow. Not Rostov, not Crimea. Everything was given instructions by Mr. Putin,” Voronchenko says.

Russia’s latest activity has followed a monthslong, intense propaganda campaign seeking to spread disinformation about Western activity in Ukraine – home to a U.S.-led military training mission in place since Russia began supporting separatist rebels in the country’s east in 2014. Moscow appears prepared to escalate the conflict.

RELATED CONTENTU.S. Moves to Defy Russia in Black Sea

During a meeting last week, NATO members did not agree on a unified response to Russia’s latest activities, though the U.S. has begun preparations potentially to sail a naval vessel into the Black Sea in defiance of what it considers Russian aggression. American aircraft have also stepped up surveillance flights, including at least one through Ukrainian airspace as an affront to Moscow and show of support for Kiev.

“Russia will likely escalate militarily against Ukraine imminently,” Catherine Harris and Mason Clark, members of the Institute for the Study of War’s research team, wrote in a Tuesday analysis.

“Russia likely perceives the lack of a unified NATO response to Moscow’s aggression in the Sea of Azov as an opportunity to escalate against Ukraine and elsewhere in the future,” they wrote. “None of the responses are likely sufficient to deter Putin, whereas the disagreement itself will likely embolden him.”

Russia has moved ground units nearer its border with Ukraine in recent days, according to the ISW report, and deployed new ships to the Black Sea under the auspices of preparing for training exercises. It has also reportedly begun a propaganda campaign designed to alarm the populations in Ukraine about a Western attack.[ 

READ: U.S. Issues Nuclear Ultimatum to Russia ]

Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s supreme allied commander and head of U.S. armed forces in Europe, was scheduled to meet with his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, in Azerbaijan on Wednesday “to promote military predictability and transparency.”

Voronchenko says Putin appears frustrated and surprised because the Russian leader does not understand why Western countries have responded so intensely to these particular events.

“Now he is extremely nervous, and he’s like a rat in the [corner] of a dark room. He doesn’t know what to do,” the admiral says.

Voronchenko says he has been in email contact with at least one of the detained sailors, who said this week that his morale remains high, though he’s tired of listening to the Russian music his captors offer.

One of the captives was reportedly supposed to begin training to command one of two retired U.S. Coast Guard cutters that Ukraine received in September to add to its modest fleet of naval vessels. Bohdan Nebylytsia was a cadet at the Ukrainian naval academy in Sevastopol, Crimea, when the strategic peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014 – a move Western countries say was illegal. He was among those who refused to side with the Russian occupiers, a spokeswoman at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., says, adding that he sang the Ukrainian national anthem at the Russian flag-raising ceremony.

Voronchenko met with defense officials at the Pentagon on Thursday and was scheduled to meet Navy Chief of Staff Adm. John Richardson on Friday to discuss a new naval strategy Kiev released earlier this year and to plan for countering the threat posed by Russia.

“The U.S. government continues to work closely with our allies and partners in Europe and around the world to support Ukraine in its pursuit of a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the ongoing Russian aggression, including Russia’s recent unprovoked attack on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon says. “DoD leaders will reiterate the U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters, as well as the right of its vessels to traverse international waters.”

The new strategy focuses on modernizing the Ukrainian navy and coastal defenses and coordinating with NATO for exercises in and around the Black Sea.

“These steps and others, I think, demonstrate the seriousness of our commitment, and we are currently considering additional ways the United States might assist Ukraine to further develop its maritime capacity,” U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch said at a security conference in Kiev on Nov. 29.Updated on Dec. 13, 2018: This story has been updated with additional details about meetings between U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

Paul D. Shinkman, Senior National Security Writer

Paul D. Shinkman is a national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow h…  READ MORE

Tags: RussiaUkraineworld newsforeign policyVladimir PutinNATO

Trump ‘Likely To Be Indicted’ On Campaign Finance Violations

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Fox News Contributor: Trump ‘Likely To Be Indicted’ On Campaign Finance Violations

“It’s clear that Trump is the target,” former U.S. attorney Andrew McCarthy said.
X

Fox News contributor Andrew McCarthy has bad news for President Donald Trump: Get ready to be indicted for violating federal campaign finance laws.

McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, said on “Fox & Friends” Sunday that attorneys with the Southern District of New York are “clearly” going after Trump, given recent revelations about statements by Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer, to the U.S. district court.

“They are clearly going after the president on campaign finance violations and I think if you read the sentencing memo the Southern District filed in Cohen’s case, it’s clear that Trump is the target and he’ll be indicted eventually,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy served as assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District for 18 years before leaving the Justice Department in 2003.

On Friday, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District filed a sentencing memo recommending Cohen receive a 42-month prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to multiple counts of business and tax fraud, making false statements to Congress and violating campaign finance law.

Cohen told the court in August that during the 2016 presidential campaign Trump directed him to make hush money payments to at least two women who say they’ve had affairs with him after he married his third wife, Melania. The president has denied the affairs and the hush money allegations.

Prosecutors say the payments violate federal campaign finance laws.

The first payment in question ―  $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels ― violated campaign finance law restrictions against donations of more than $2,700 in a general election, according to federal prosecutors.

The second payment under legal scrutiny is $150,000 made by American Media Inc. to silence Karen McDougal, which prosecutors say constituted an illegal corporate donation to Trump’s campaign. The National Enquirer’s parent company was chaired at the time by Trump’s longtime confidante, David Pecker.

The Southern District case involving Cohen stems from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump obstructed justice.

Subscribe to the Politics email.
How will Trump’s administration impact you?

Mueller did not take a position on Cohen’s sentence but the special counsel’s office wrote in their sentencing memo that Cohen has “gone to significant lengths” to help in their investigation.

Fox News host Ed Henry on Sunday appeared taken aback by McCarthy’s prediction.

“You think the president of the United States is going to be indicted… I mean that kind of stops me in my tracks,” Henry said.

McCarthy said he can’t be positive whether the Justice Department would indict a sitting president or wait until Trump is out of office.

“I think what can happen is they could indict and he could be tried down the road when he’s out of office,” McCarthy said. “But will [Trump] be charged? Are they setting the stage to file charges against him? If you read that sentencing memo, I can’t come to any other conclusion.”

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Trump “may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time.”

“There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him,” Schiff said.

Embedded video

Face The Nation

@FaceTheNation

.@AdamSchiff on the Russia Investigation: My takeaway is there’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office the justice department may indict him. That he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time.

1,188 people are talking about this

McCarthy delved deeper into the case in an Op-Ed published Sunday on Fox News’ website.

“Campaign finance violations have a high proof threshold for intent,” McCarthy wrote. “President Trump could argue that because there was no spending limit on his contributions, he did not think about the campaign-finance implications, much less willfully violate them.”

“The point for this day is that the Cohen case in New York City is not about Cohen,” he concluded. “The president is in peril of being charged.”