‘Reuters lied’: MH17 witness says reporter falsified testimony

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A Lugansk Region resident, whom Reuters cites as saying he saw evidence of a surface-to-air missile launched from rebel-held territory on the day MH17 was downed, told RT the news agency gave a false report of his interview.

As a part of a March report on the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 tragedy Reuters talked to Pyotr Fedotov, a 58-year-old resident of the village Chervonniy Zhovten in the Lugansk Region of eastern Ukraine.

When interviewed by Reuters, Fedotov, the witness who described the ‘wiggling’ rocket, at first said on camera that it was fired from territory held by the Ukrainian army. Later, off camera, he said it was launched from a nearby rebel area. Asked why he had originally said the opposite, he said it was because he was afraid of the rebels,” the news agency said.

RT contacted Fedotov and he said that Reuters correspondent Anton Zverev was “less than accurate” with his testimony.

When we talked about the Boeing on camera, I explained everything as it was. The things that I allegedly said off-camera were just made up by the journalist. It’s all lies. Off-camera, we never discussed the Boeing, Fedotov told RT.

He added that the Reuters journalist contacted him after taking the interview, but never showed him a draft of the article. Instead he was asking whether Fedotov had got into trouble for speaking to him.

“The journalist called me and asked if I was in trouble. I was really surprised. Why would I be in trouble if I told the truth? And then my friends told me in the article I was saying different things when the cameras were on and off. That’s when I understood why he was asking if I was in trouble,” the witness explained.

So it’s mere fantasy from the journalist or maybe he was doing it for his own benefit, he added.

RT’s request to Reuters for comments on the controversy and raw footage of Fedotov’s interview was not replied to as of publication of this article.

Read more

Lavrov condemns Reuters report on MH17 crash, calls for ‘unbiased, professional’ investigation

Reuters’ reporting was not based solely on Fedotov’s testimony. The agency cited three other eyewitnesses from the village, but only Fedotov was cited as pointing to either side of the conflict as firing the missile. The report emphasized that the eyewitness accounts didn’t conclusively prove that the rocket they saw was the one that downed Flight MH17.

Earlier in March, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov condemned the Reuters report of witnesses’ statements, saying it “looked like a stovepiping.” The top diplomat also then said that questions posed by Russia’s officials remained unanswered, saying there have been no promised images from American satellites or recordings of Ukrainian air traffic controllers’ communications with the plane.

The Malaysian Boeing 777 airliner was downed over eastern Ukraine on July 17 last year, killing 298 people on board. The incident became an instant controversy, with Ukraine and its Western backers accused rebel forces and Russia of being behind the downing.

Read more

Ukraine media falsely claim Dutch prosecutors accused Russia of MH17 downing

An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the Netherlands, but the preliminary report released last year didn’t point even to a kind of weapon used in the downing of the aircraft, only that an outside force destroyed it mid-air.

Russia called not to jump to conclusions and made military radar data public which indicated the presence of Ukrainian surface-to-air batteries and warplanes in the area on the day of the Boeing shooting.

Earlier Ukrainian media falsely claimed that Dutch investigators concluded that MH17 had been shot down by the rebels with a Buk missile, citing a report in the Dutch media that outlined the popular theory, but didn’t claim it to be proven. Dutch prosecutors told RT at the time that the investigation had not been concluded.

(THESE ARE THE PEOPLE THAT OBAMA IS HELPING.) ‘It’s his personal ideology': USA Today finds Nazis among Kiev’s volunteer brigade

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An Azov Battalion sergeant has confessed to USA Today of praising Nazi ideology. He also pledged a march on the Ukrainian capital after the war. A spokesman for the pro-Kiev brigade insists this is a ‘personal choice’ of no more than a fifth of the unit.

USA Today visited the Azov Battalion stationed in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol and spoke to a number of servicemen of the unit, which is sponsored by Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoysky.

READ MORE: Wolfsangel in E. Ukraine: Foreign Policy talks to deputy leader of ‘pro-govt’ Azov Battalion

A drill sergeant who identified himself as Alex told the newspaper that he supports Nazi-style strong leadership for Ukraine but does not share Nazis’ genocide agenda against Jews, as long as minorities “don’t demand special privileges.”

Alex insisted that once the war is over, he and others from the Azov Battalion will go back to Kiev to oust the corrupt government and nationalize the property of wealthy oligarchs.

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Officers of higher ranks in the battalion denied the presence of a large number of neo-Nazis among servicemen.

READ MORE: Right Sector refuses to obey Ukraine’s Defense Ministry – presidential aid

I know Alex is a Nazi, but it’s his personal ideology. It has nothing to do with the official ideology of the Azov,” said Andrey Dyachenko, a spokesman for the Azov Battalion. However, he did state that “only 10 percent to 20 percent of the group’s members are Nazis.”

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The Azov Battalion’s deputy commander, Oleg Odnorozhenko, insisted that the drill sergeant does not speak for the group. “If he has his own sympathies, it’s his own matter,” Odnorozhenko said, adding that Alex “will be dealt with severely for his lack of discipline.”

Ideas like going to Kiev to change the government in an illegal way should be nipped in the bud,” Odnorozhenko said, adding that Alex is a “good drill sergeant and a good instructor for tactics and weapons skills,” so his future in the unit is probably as bright as it gets.

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A member of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Kiev, Col. Oleksy Nozdrachov, defended the Azov fighters as patriots. “They are volunteers who decided to sacrifice their lives to the country,” he said.

They are tough and fierce in battle who stand and fight and won’t give up soil.”

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Kiev-controlled volunteer battalions and the Ukrainian Security Service are involved in an increasing number of human rights violations, including torture and forced disappearances of those suspected of “separatism,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a December 2014 report.

READ MORE: UN rights watchdog accuses Kiev forces of torture, inhumane treatment of civilians

The report – which covered a period of just one month, from November 1-30 – said the Office of the Military Prosecutor had not taken any actions to investigate the “considerable” number of allegations of human rights violations, “including looting, arbitrary detention and ill-treatment by members of certain voluntary battalions such as Aidar, Azov, Slobozhanshchina and Shakhtarsk.”

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In September last year, another international report confirmed that war crimes – including abductions, executions, and extortion – were committed by the Ukrainian Aidar volunteer battalion in the Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine.

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The recent interview is not the first time that Ukraine battalion volunteers have openly supported Nazi ideology. Last year, troops from the Ukrainian Azov and Donbass battalions were reportedly noticed wearing swastikas and SS badges.

According to a video on German TV station ZDF, Ukrainian soldiers were shown wearing swastikas and the “SS runes” of Adolph Hitler’s elite corps. The footage was shot by a camera team from Norwegian broadcaster TV2.

https://youtu.be/5SBo0akeDMY

A year ago, BBC Newsnight journalist Gabriel Gatehouse visited Kiev to investigate the links between the new Ukrainian government and Neo-nazis. Having reported “groups of armed men strut through the [Maidan] square with dubious iconography” – including German symbols used by SS divisions during WWII – the British journalistic investigation found that “the most organized and perhaps the most effective were a small number of far right groups,” adding that “when it came to confrontation with the police, it was often the nationalists who were the loudest and the most violent.”

READ MORE: Ukraine ultranationalist leader rejects Minsk peace deal, vows ‘to continue war’

National Socialist themes are popular amongst some of us…I like the idea of one nation. A clean nation…Not like under Hitler, but in our own way, a little bit like that,” a member of Ukraine’s Right Sector told the BBC reporter, who concluded that “the influence of the far right in Ukraine is growing.”

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In February, Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh said the party’s paramilitary units in eastern Ukraine will continue “active fighting” despite the ceasefire, as the radical movement did not recognize the Minsk peace deal agreed upon by Ukraine, France, Germany, and Russia after 16 hours of talks.

US to send more drones, Humvees to Ukraine

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Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed US was to send Ukraine more non-lethal military aid, including drones and armored Humvees.

“We are today providing immediately some 75 million dollars of additional non-lethal assistance, immediately, to Ukraine in order to help them in non-lethal assistance,” Kerry told the Senate on Wednesday afternoon during a hearing concerning a proposed war powers act offered by the White House. “And, as you know, other things are currently under consideration.”

The aid has been discussed on the phone by Vice President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during a phone call, according to US officials, AP reported.

The aid package includes the small Raven drone system, which can be launched by hand, radios, counter mortar radars, 30 heavily armored Humvees and 200 regular ones.

READ MORE: ‘We should absolutely consider lethal aid’ to Ukraine – US Gen. Martin Dempsey

Washington and other NATO allies have spent in excess of $100 million in security aid to Ukraine, although until now this has been primarily of a non-lethal nature.

“We have over the last 14 months provided $118 million in security assistance” to the Ukrainian authorities, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs earlier this month.

The US also announced earlier in March that they were planning to send about 300 military advisors to train the Ukrainian army from March through October.

Read more
US boosting ‘anti-propaganda’ budget, mulling ‘increase of lethality’ for Ukraine support – Nuland

The UK also announced that it will send 75 British military personnel in March who will offer medical, intelligence and infantry training to the Ukrainian army. Poland has also said it is sending military advisors to Ukraine.

Sergey Ryabkov, a deputy Russian foreign minister, said in February that supplying weapons to Ukraine would “escalate the whole situation” and “would be a major blow to the Minsk agreements.”

Russia believes the best chance for peace in Ukraine lies in the Minsk ceasefire agreement, which largely appears to be holding.

“It’s extremely important that the authorities in Kiev have agreed to carry out a deep constitutional reform, to satisfy a desire for self-rule in certain regions – whether that reform is called decentralization, autonomization or federalization. This is the deeper meaning of the Minsk accords,” said President Putin.

NATO is using Ukraine crisis to advance towards Russian borders – Defense Ministry

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NATO is using the situation in Ukraine to push closer to Russia’s border, according to the Russian deputy defense minister. He says the Alliance’s activities have expanded considerably over the past years.

In their push, Anatoly Antonov says Allied forces are ignoring diplomacy.

“We’ve noticed that NATO member states are using the situation in southeastern Ukraine as a pretext to discard all diplomatic conventions, tricks and slogans and push forward, closer to the Russian border.”

According to the minister, what NATO is doing is completely out of proportion with what NATO commanders call the build-up of Russian forces on its side of the border in Ukraine. “NATO’s activities are many times greater than Russia’s.”

However, he added they aren’t a threat to Russia’s security.

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All of this is being done to restrain Russia and punish it for refusing to play along with rules set by the West, according to the official.

“Instead of uniting forces to fight evil, the worst of which is terrorism, Western nations are drawing new divisive lines, trying to realize containment schemes against unwelcome states. Today, Russia has been chosen as the target.”

He added that NATO currently can’t be considered the pillar of world freedom and security it is cracked up to be.

All this doesn’t bode well for relations between the US and Russia, Antonov said.

“Throughout my military and diplomatic career, I haven’t seen another period when Russian-American relations have been so difficult.”

The activities he was referring to include massive wargames in Eastern Europe and naval exercises in the Black Sea. On Wednesday, warships from the US, Turkey, Italy, Canada and Romania started drills there.

Another example is the NATO military parade on February 24, held just 300 meters from the Russian border, in the Estonian town of Narva. About 140 pieces of armor and 10 times as many troops, including US soldiers, took part in that event.

Moscow saw it as a stab in its direction, but Estonia defended its right to host a parade, saying it can move military whichever way it likes on its territory – the same argument used by Russia when accused of military build-up along its borders.

US armor paraded 300m from Russian border (VIDEO)

The US is sending 600 paratroopers to Ukraine by the end of this week. US 173rd Airborne Brigade Commander Colonel Michael Foster announced this at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC on Monday.

The forces will stay there for six months, with the stated goal of training the Ukrainian National Guard. However, the operation could grow bigger.

“Initially, the plan is to go for six months,” said Colonel Foster. “There have been discussions on how to increase both the duration of that event and the scope, the other things the US can assist with from a military perspective.”

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Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich, said on Thursday that 300 American troops are already in Ukraine, training local servicemen near the city of Lvov.

The Ukrainian Defense ministry has denied Russia’s claims of US military instructors already being in the country.

“We don’t confirm this. It is the news from 12 years ago. Today it’s a fake,” the ministry’s spokeswoman,Viktoria Kushnir, told the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

The spokesman for a region Defense Ministry media-center in Lvov, Aleksandr Poronyuk, also said the information “doesn’t correspond with reality.”

When asked if the training program will be used to send lethal aid to Ukraine should the US decide to do so, Colonel Foster said a “secondary method” will be used for that.

The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the US push to give lethal aid to Kiev especially “in light of the rather successful implementation of ceasefire agreements reached on February 12.”

“Weapon supplies may cause not only the failure of the ceasefire and a new escalation of violence in the south east (of Ukraine), but also pose a threat to Russia’s security,” Lukashevich stressed.

RUSSIAN FIGHTER JETS PRACTICE ATTACKING NATO SHIPS

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Tensions over Ukraine continue to build despite ceasefire

by PAUL JOSEPH WATSON | MARCH 4, 2015

Russian fighter jets are practicing attacking NATO ships in the Black Sea in another dramatic sign that tensions over Ukraine continue to build despite a fragile ceasefire agreed last month.

“Russia’s newest Su-30 fighter jets and Su-24 attack bombers are using two NATO ships in the Black Sea to practice penetrating anti-air systems,” reports Sputnik, citing a source at the Sevastopol naval base.

Asserting that the NATO ships are conducting drills based around “repelling air attacks,” Moscow is taking the opportunity to practice “maneuvering and conducting aerial reconnaissance” outside the range of the ships in order to “practice attack scenarios”.

The report also states that Russia is closely monitoring the movements of the ships, namely the USS Vicksburg missile cruiser and the Turkish TCG Turgutreis frigate, and the assignments they are performing.

Three Su-30 jets and four Su-24 bombers carried out reconnaissance on the ships yesterday.

The exercises coincide with an unannounced test of nuclear weapons near the central Russian city Yoshkar-Ola. Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) said the exercise was based around an assessment of the “condition and security provisions” of nuclear weapons in the Yoshkar-Ola Missile Unit, which is armed with the Topol intercontinental nuclear-capable ballistic missile complex.

Russia has also sought to demonstrate its military might with a series of maneuvers over sovereign European airspace. The latest incident involved two Tu-95 ‘Bear’ long-range strategic bombers which flew 40 kilometers off the Irish coast with their transponders turned off, forcing air traffic control to re-route commercial flights to avoid a collision.

Sporadic fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian rebels and Kiev forces continues to be reported despite an agreement from both sides to withdraw heavy weapons from the region. At least 6,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted last year.

Gazprom to consider separating Donbass gas supplies from Ukraine

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Gazprom is ready to separate gas supplies to Ukraine and Donbass, said company spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov, as an energy standoff between Moscow and Kiev escalates.

“We continue active correspondence with Naftogaz, which yesterday confirmed the remaining amount of paid-for gas in its letter – 206 million cubic meters as of yesterday,” he said in an interview with Rossiya 24 TV channel.

“At the moment we are ready to take gas supply to Donbass out of the discussion. We are ready to deliver the volume required by Naftogaz at the specific entry points,” added Kupriyanov.

At current supply levels the prepayment will be enough until the end of the week, and if Kiev doesn’t provide advance payment for March, Gazprom won’t be able to continue supplying Ukraine with gas.

“Therefore, the main issue for Naftogaz now is to find money for a new prepayment,” he said. “We will act according to the contract. If the money does not arrive on time, the gas won’t be delivered.”

The comment comes as the deadline for Ukraine’s gas prepayment looms, with President Putin and Gazprom head Aleksey Miller warning Russian deliveries to Kiev could be cut by Saturday.

On Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin called for Ukraine to decide whether it considers Donbass part of its territory and take responsibility for the situation, as cutting off energy supplies to the war zone “smells like genocide.”

On February 19 Ukraine suspended gas supply to Donbass saying the reason was the damage of the pipeline. After that Russia began separate gas deliveries to Donbass saying that a delay in prepayment by Ukraine may threaten further supplies of Russian gas to the country.

Putin: Gas supplies to Europe could suffer in 3-4 days if Kiev doesn’t pay

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Russia will cut off gas supplies to Ukraine if Kiev fails to pay in “three or four days,” President Vladimir Putin said, adding that this “will create a problem” for gas transit to Europe.

“Gazprom has been fully complying with its obligations under the Ukraine gas supply contract and will continue doing that,” Putin told reporters after talks with the president of Cyprus on Wednesday. “The advance payment for gas supply made by the Ukrainian side will be in place for another three to four days. If there is no further prepayment, Gazprom will suspend supplies under the contract and its supplement. Of course, this could create a certain problem for [gas] transit to Europe to our European partners.”

However, Putin expressed the hope that it would not come to that, stressing that “it depends on the financial discipline of our Ukrainian partners.”N

He noted that Russia’s ministers and the CEO of Gazprom have “actively” reminded Ukraine of the looming deadline.

On Tuesday, Gazprom’s CEO Aleksey Miller reminded Ukraine’s state-owned Naftogaz of the gas prepayment. Miller said that Ukraine had not paid for March deliveries and warned that Kiev was risking an early termination of the advance settlement and a supply cutoff.

“It takes about two days to get payment from Naftogaz deposited to a Gazprom account. That’s why a delivery to Ukraine of 114 million cubic meters will lead to a complete termination of Russian gas supplies as early as in two days, which creates serious risks for the transit to Europe,” Miller said.

Putin said that Gazprom had breached no contract terms of gas supplies to border points to eastern parts of Ukraine.

“It has become known to us that Kiev suspended gas supplies [to Lugansk and Donetsk regions] referring to the alleged damage to gas pipelines,” Putin said.

“At the same time, Gazprom is fulfilling the contract signed back in 2009 and an addendum to it made in October last year. In full compliance with this contract, it supplies gas to Ukraine under advance payments made for the volumes, which Ukraine needs.”

Putin indicated that these contracts also stipulated border points. “Gazprom is not breaching any provisions,” he added.

“As for the damage to the gas pipeline, I don’t know for certain, but I know that these regions are home to about 4.5 million people. Just imagine that these people may be left without gas supply during the winter period. In addition to the hunger, there as is already stated by the OSCE and the humanitarian disaster, just imagine these people may also be left without gas supply,” Putin said.

He accused some Ukrainian officials of failing to understand the humanitarian issues in Ukraine’s eastern regions.

Citing the OSCE report of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in southeastern Ukraine as well as famine, President Putin said Kiev’s recent decision to switch off gas for those regions “smells like genocide.”

Ukraine’s state-owned Naftogaz suspended gas supplies to eastern regions on February 19, citing damage to a pipeline. Under the gas deal between Moscow and Kiev, Gazprom promptly launched gas supplies to Ukraine’s southeast through border gas metering stations supplying 12 million cubic meters a day.

Kiev said it restored the damage in several hours and restarted gas supplies. Naztogas has refused to pay Gazprom for the gas supplied to eastern regions from February 19. The same day, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered the country’s energy minister and the head of Gazprom to prepare proposals on fuel deliveries to Ukraine’s southeast regions.

Naftogaz has also accused Russia of breaking the agreement to deliver 114 million of cubic meters of natural gas to Ukraine by delivering only 47 million cubic meters.

According to Naftogas, since February 22 Gazprom has been fulfilling only 40 percent of its requests for pre-paid gas, yet the Ukrainian company plans to get 206 million cubic meters of pre-paid gas by the end of February, RIA-Novosti reported Wednesday.