BREAKING: Putin Announces Ukraine Ceasefire

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A ceasefire will begin in eastern Ukraine on 15 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced.

“We have managed to agree on the main issues,” he said following marathon talks involving Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, as well the leaders of France and Germany.

French President Francois Hollande said it was a “serious deal” but not everything had been agreed.

Thousands of people have been killed in the fighting in the east of Ukraine.

via BBC News


[VIDEO] NATO Sees ‘Significant Buildup’ of Russian Forces in Ukraine

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Large Convoys Reported to be Moving Into the Region

BRUSSELS—Naftali Bendavid reports: Russia has sent convoys of tanks, howitzers and other weaponry along with troops into eastern Ukraine in recent days, possibly aiming to consolidate separatist enclaves there in preparation for a long-term standoff, Western observers say.

The new incursions represent a sharp increase in Russia’s presence in the region, posing a significant new challenge to the peace plan signed in early September in Minsk, Belarus.

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“This is a severe threat to the cease-fire,” the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. “Any attempt by separatist forces to seize more territory in eastern Ukraine would be another blatant violation of the Minsk agreement.”

The flow “includes Russian artillery, tanks, air defense systems and troops,” he said.

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‘We…are again at a point in which we can’t say for sure how this conflict will proceed.’

—German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

In addition, international monitors in the region said that the Russian-backed rebels have been gaining territory, and that the mission’s surveillance drones have been shot at and jammed.

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‘While our aim is to try to work to consolidate the cease-fire, it is more on paper.’

Lamberto Zannier, OSCE secretary-general

Russia’s Defense Ministry denied the allegations of a military presence—troops or weaponry—in Ukraine, calling them, like previous ones, “regular concussions of the Brussels air.”

Since the cease-fire was reached between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists on Sept. 5—under Russian auspices—the two sides have regularly accused each other of violations. Hundreds of deaths of fighters and civilians have been recorded since then. Read the rest of this entry »


Author Peter Savodnik: Why Lee Harvey Oswald Fled to the Soviet Union

A copy of an envelope containing a letter sent by Oswald to the Supreme Soviet asking for political asylum in the former U.S.S.R. (Reuters)

A copy of an envelope containing a letter sent by Oswald to the Supreme Soviet asking for political asylum in the former U.S.S.R. (Reuters)

The years Kennedy’s assassin spent in Minsk only deepened his isolation, biographer Peter Savodnik says.

Heather Maher writes:  To mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, a wave of books has been published in the United States covering everything from Kennedy’s legacy to alleged new details about his death. One new title examines the Soviet chapter of the life of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who shot Kennedy. Oswald defected to the Soviet Union in 1959 and spent two and a half years living in Minsk before he grew tired of the adventure and returned home. In The Interloper: Lee Harvey Oswald Inside the Soviet Union, Peter Savodnik looks at why Oswald fled America, his life in Minsk, and what ultimately led him to climb to the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas and aim a rifle at Kennedy’s head on November 22, 1963. An interview with the author follows:

You write that Lee Harvey Oswald’s decision to defect to the USSR was part of an unhappy pattern that existed throughout his entire life and was established by his mother.

Peter Savodnik: Before joining the Marines [at the age of 17] and leaving home, Oswald moved 20 times with his mother. And each move was precipitated by some failure on her part—a failed relationship, a lost job, or some rupture or crisis. The point is that Oswald never has, throughout his childhood or adolescence, anything akin to a home, a sense of rootedness. And if you view the Soviet foray through this prism, then it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly that the whole point of going there—even if Oswald wasn’t aware of it—was to find some sense of permanence, a place to call home. Read the rest of this entry »