Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has proposed the establishment of two working languages in Ukraine: alongside Ukrainian, the second “should rightly be English.”
The perhaps not-so-surprising proposal was made at celebrations marking the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy’s 400th anniversary, Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported.
“Mohyla pioneered two working languages - Ukrainian and English,” Poroshenko said. “I think it would be very good if in Ukraine, and not just at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, there appeared a second working language. And this language should rightly be English.”
In June Poroshenko announced that the mastery of English language should be priority for state politicians. As of October 1, knowledge of English became a prerequisite for employment in the administration of the president of Ukraine.
In his annual address to the Verkhovna Rada, Poroshenko also promised to announce 2016 as a year of learning English.
Speaking at a US army convention, Pentagon chief Ashton Carter pledged to take “all necessary steps” needed to keep a tight rein on Russia, according to the British newspaper The Guardian.
The newspaper quoted Carter as saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin allegedly wrapped his country in a “shroud of isolation,” which Carter said only a drastic change in policy could reverse.
“We will take all necessary steps to deter Russia’s malign and destabilizing influence, coercion and aggression,” Carter said.
According to him, as long as Russia adheres to its “misguided strategy” in Syria to support President Assad, “we have not, and will not, agree to cooperate with Russia.”
The Guardian noted that Carter’s latest remarks became the Obama administration’s strongest language since its announcing the “reset of relations” with Russia back in 2009.
Carter made the comments against the backdrop of Washington’s refusal to receive a high-ranking Russian delegation led by the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to discuss the situation in Syria.
Commenting on the move, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that “we have been told that they can’t send a delegation to Moscow and they can’t host a delegation in Washington either.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, in turn, attributed Washington’s decision to Moscow’s alleged unwillingness to contribute to the fight against the Islamic State (ISIL).
Ernest claimed that Russia has its own agenda in Syria, which it carries out on its own, adding that Moscow’s attempts to convince Washington to partner with Russia indicated that Russia’s efforts left the country isolated. Meanwhile, Russia has partnered with Iraq, Iran and Syria to eliminate ISIL and return peace and stability to a region which has known neither since the fall of Baghdad in 2003.
Syrian Kurds have expressed their willingness to cooperate with Russia. This would be a setback for the Turkish President Erdogan, who is seeking to destroy the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), DWN wrote.
In an interview with al-Monitor, the leader of the Syrian Kurds Salih Muslim announced his willingness to cooperate with Russia and Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad, the newspaper reported.
He said the Syrian Kurds are interested in cooperating with anyone who fights against ISIL. Moreover, Russia had promised the government in Damascus that it would respond to any Turkish intervention in Syria, which many Kurds are afraid of.
The US, in turn, has also been increasingly supportive of cooperation with the Russians. Many US officials believe that Russia could be helpful in their fight against ISIL, which turned out to be more difficult than expected.
However, Turkey fears that Russia’s potential support for the Kurds may lead to a situation in which a new Kurdish region would form along its southern borders and destabilize Turkey. This could result in a further downturn in the relations between Turkey and Russia, which have already deteriorated after an aviation incident at the Turkish border.
On October 3, a Russian Su-30 fighter jet had briefly crossed Turkish airspace due to poor weather conditions. Russian authorities officially apologized for the incident, saying it was a “misunderstanding,” and promised to avoid such incidents in the future.
Photo © Sputnik/ Alexei Druzhinin
Will Damascus request the British to assist in the same way, I don’t know. But there is another way for the British, and, in fact, everybody else, to carry out airstrikes against ISIS and other terrorists legitimately. It means a UN Security Council mandate, provided in response to the request of the Syrian Government. That is what we are now working on in New York. That is how the British could have their finger in the bombing pie in Syria. Russia is far from pulling this blanket upon herself. We want to work together.
There are other advantages of this course, besides establishing clear-cut objectives and terms of such collective intervention by the international community in Syria. We could agree, in the text of this resolution, on realistic and flexible enough modalities of a political settlement in Syria, which would allow those who left their country to come back and take part in its post-war reconstruction. The latter, by the way, could be a major source of economic growth in the region. What is equally important, this settlement will make it unnecessary for the EU to provide asylum to refugees from Syria.
I’ve read the said FT material. Some would say that it is very much in line with the backstabbing tradition of Western politics. I hope those plans were not serious on the part of our Anglo-American partners, who were able to see our preparations for airstrikes in Syria. The British have a signals intelligence post in Cyprus, just opposite our naval supply station in Syria, an equivalent of a 19th century coaling station. Perhaps, they just couldn’t say ‘no’ to their regional allies. But had it been true, it would have raised a host of serious issues. Because it would have been done behind our backs and in circumvention of the UN Security Council. Some seem eager to get NATO involved. The Alliance, until now, has been out of the picture in Syria, and for good reasons. Those plans, if implemented, would have brought about a de facto partition of Syria. More than that, our partners would have well found themselves in the position of protecting the terrorists.
It is a very dangerous idea. Some players might have harbored it. At least this would explain, why all of a sudden and from nowhere the tide of refugees in Europe this year. Quite likely it was meant to bring the EU on board as regards ‘safe zone’ plans. Now the migration crisis factor works for more realistic assumptions in Europe in respect of the political process in Syria, which cannot proceed while ISIS is there.
But let’s discuss things positively. Among those I can see close cooperation between the Russian and British military. Making common cause in Syria creates mutual trust, establishes mutual control, and provides incentives for both sides to be effective in doing its part of the job. We have just requested our Western partners provide us with their intelligence on the terrorist infrastructure in Syria, if they really think that we strike the wrong targets. We have also requested contact numbers of the Free Syrian Army to help bring it into a united effort to defeat terrorists.
And initial results of our strikes prove that they can be very effective if delivered in earnest, with no other objectives at the back of one’s mind. It also shows that the terrorists took their impunity for granted. In fact, it could be said that the anti-ISIS coalition of 60 (!) states presided over this outfit’s expansion for a whole year, rather than tried hard to stop and destroy it.
I am sure that thus there will be all the conditions in place for us to have a common view of the situation and make joint efforts on that basis. Among other things, it would have provided a welcome opportunity for our and the British military to be allies like we were in WWII. It would drastically change the terrorists’ calculus while doing the same to our relationship, which is in a very bad shape indeed.
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
Two Connecticut cops were hanging out together off-duty when suddenly, they feared for their lives, drew their firearms and hosed down a suspicious car in their driveway.
Too bad the car was empty.
And belonged to one of the officers.
Then the Darien Police Department did something even more shocking.
Darien police asked the Connecticut State Police to investigate the incident, leading to charges against the two officers for second-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree breach of peace and unlawful discharge of a firearm under state law.
It’s no shock that an independent investigation would find probable cause to charge the two officers for these actions.
James Martin and Daniel Ehret fired the live ammunition for unknown reasons on August 1st, 2015, but it took two months before charges were announced just yesterday.
The officers were at Martin’s house and destroyed Martin’s own personal vehicle.
Of course, this means the officers have now been placed on “paid administrative leave” which is the police term of art for a fully paid vacation with salary.
More significant than charges is the rare admission from a police agency that cops must abide the same laws as citizens AND that investigations of a department’s own officers. According to local TV station WTNH:
Darien Police Chief Duane Lovello says that the two officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave after the incident occurred. “The allegations leading to the arrests are disturbing. I cannot conceive of anything that would lead police officers to do something so profoundly dangerous and wholly irresponsible. This conduct is intolerable and does not reflect the professional values or the ethical, responsible, and moral conduct we demand of Darien police officers and their duty to the public we serve,” Chief Lovello said in a statement.
Local outlet Darien Times story released Chief Lovello’s entire statement, which revealed the car’s true owner and the location of the alleged crimes committed by two 10-year police veterans. Turns out that the town of Darien, which was founded in 1737, survived all the way until 1925 without any police force whatsoever.
Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has expressed conditional support for a UN-brokered peace plan put forward in talks previously held in Oman.
The Ansarullah movement will agree to the seven-point peace plan, which also requires adherence to UN Resolution 2216, if other parties to the conflict also commit to the initiative, Yemen’s Saba Net news agency quoted Ansarullah spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam as saying on Wednesday.
The resolution, which was adopted in April, calls for the withdrawal of Ansarullah fighters from the areas under their control and for them to lay down arms.
Abdulsalam also called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council to back Yemen’s peace process.
Yemen’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, has not yet commented on Houthi’s new position. He had earlier ruled out engaging in talks with the Houthis before they accept the UN resolution.
Yemen’s General People’s Congress (GPC), the party of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, has also accepted the peace plan.
Ansarullah fighters took control of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, in September 2014 and are currently in control of large parts of the Arab country. The revolutionaries said the government of Hadi was incapable of properly running the affairs of the country and containing the growing wave of corruption and terror.
Hadi, along with the cabinet of the former Yemeni prime minister, Khaled Bahah, stepped down in January.
On February 21, he escaped house arrest in Sana’a and fled to his hometown Aden, where he withdrew his resignation and highlighted his intention to resume duties. He later fled the port city to Saudi Arabia.
Unhappy with the advances of the Ansarullah fighters, who are backed by army forces and Popular Committees, Saudi Arabia began a deadly military aggression against Yemen – without a UN mandate – on March 26. The strikes are meant to undermine the Ansarullah movement and restore power to Hadi.
About 6,400 people have reportedly lost their lives in the conflict in Yemen, according to reports.
In a Thursday interview with Press TV’s website, Siraj Davis, a Jordan-based freelance journalist and human rights activist, hailed the UN-proposed peace plan because it envisions a political process whereby the Houthis are given a role in the decision-making process in the country.
“What I like about the peace plan is the fact that they (Saudi Arabia and its Yemeni allies) do agree to make the Houthis a political party, which is extremely important,” Davis said.
He added, however, that the fugitive officials of the former Yemeni government, which have set preconditions for peace talks, are not sincere in their claims about reaching a peace deal.
“I believe that all sides need to just come to agreement, recognize what is on the ground… that Houthis control practically the majority of everything,” Davis said.
Iraq is planning to officially ask Russia for airstrikes against Daesh in a bid to purge the Takfiri militant group from the territories it controls in the west and north of the Arab country.
“We might be forced to ask Russia to launch airstrikes in Iraq soon. I think in the upcoming few days or weeks Iraq will be forced to ask Russia to launch airstrikes and that depends on their success in Syria,” the head of the Iraqi parliament’s defense and security committee, Hakim al-Zamili, said on Wednesday, urging Moscow to play a bigger role than the United States in fighting terrorists in Iraq.
Baghdad has long criticized the ineffectiveness of the aerial military campaign by Washington and its allies against alleged Daesh positions in Iraq. However, Moscow’s recent military intervention against the terrorists in Syria has raised hopes of a similar move in Iraq.
“We are seeking to see Russia have a bigger role in Iraq. … Yes, definitely a bigger role than the Americans,” Zamili said.
The senior Iraqi legislator also expressed hope that a newly-established security and intelligence-sharing command center which includes Iran, Iraq and Syria and Russia and is set to begin work in Iraq, could make the anti-Daesh battle more effective.
“We believe that this center will develop in the near future to be a joint operation command to lead the war against Daesh in Iraq,” he added.
Russia has been pounding the positions of Daesh and other militant groups in Syria for a week, a move which has clearly irritated the United States and other Western governments. Washington accuses Russia of targeting the so-called moderate militants in Syria, but Moscow denies the charges, saying it chooses its targets based on intelligence provided by the Syrian army. Russia has also sought to play down the significance of US-fabricated distinction between militants in Syria.
Earlier in the day, Russian officials said they would consider an airborne operation against Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Iraq if they received a formal request from the Arab country on the issue.
Valentina Matviyenko, the Russian Federation Council speaker, said Russian leaders would be open to study “the political and military expediency” of an operation in Iraq in case of official request by Iraq.
Syrian air force helicopters dropped leaflets in the south of Hama province, inviting terrorists to surrender and warning civilians about the beginning of a major military operation.
Agitational leaflets were dropped on the territories of Rastan and Talbiseh settlements, currently controlled by Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra militants, RIA Novosti reported.
There were two types of dispersed leaflets. One contained a detailed instruction on how to behave when approaching Syrian troops’ checkpoints and urged civilians to leave their homes on the threshold of a forthcoming military operation.
“With this leaflet you are allowed to safely pass Syrian Arab Army checkpoints,” the leaflet for civilians said. “The army will provide food supplies and medical assistance. Cooperate with the Syrian army and leave the war zone for the sake of your own lives.”
In the other leaflet, Syrian citizens who took sides with terrorists were offered to surrender their arms and give up confrontation with the army.
“The future is in front of you, and this is your chance to return to your motherland’s embrace,” it said. “Use this chance before it is too late. Lay down arms just like hundreds did before you. The government will take care of you and welcome your return.”
The Syrian Army is preparing for a major anti-terrorist operation in the south of Hama province, including the settlements of Rastan and Talbiseh, currently controlled by extremists.
The primary goal of the Syrian leadership is to secure a route between the towns of Homs and Hama. The towns are fully controlled by government forces, but settlements between them are considered the main stronghold of terrorists, including ISIL, in this part of Syria.
Leader of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) Igor Plotnitsky said Tuesday he was ready to sign an agreement on weapons pullout in Donbass on September 30.
On Tuesday participants of the Contact Group on Ukraine initialed an agreement on the withdrawal of weaponry with caliber under 100-mm and tanks from a separation line between Kiev-led forces and Donbass militia in eastern Ukraine.
“This is a much-anticipated news for people who live along the contact line,” the Lugansk Information Center quoted Plotnitsky as saying.
“I hope that this document, which we will sign tomorrow, will open the way for further implementation of the Minsk agreements.”
The withdrawal of weaponry under 100-mm and tanks from a separation line between conflicting sides in eastern Ukraine will be carried out in two stages over 41 days, tanks will be pulled out first, OSCE envoy to Ukraine reconciliation talks Martin Sajdik said Tuesday.
Sadjik said that the agreement envisions the withdrawal of tanks, artillery of caliber under 100-mm and mortars with caliber under 120-mm to a distance of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from the separation line within a period of 41 days.
The diplomat added that the pullout would start on the territory of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic two days after a full ceasefire regime had been established.
Tanks will be withdrawn first, followed by artillery and mortars, Sajdik explained.
Participants of the Contact Group on Ukraine signed on Tuesday an agreement on the withdrawal of tanks and weaponry with a caliber of under 100-mm from a separation line between Kiev-led forces and Donbass militia in eastern Ukraine.
A source close to the talks told RIA Novosti that the new arms pullout deal will be added to the package of Minsk peace accords, agreed on February 12 between Russian, Ukrainian, French and German leaders.
“An agreement on the pullout of weaponry with caliber under 100-mm and tanks from the contact line in Donbass has been initialed.”
The report was later confirmed by Donetsk envoy to Contact Group talks in Minsk Denis Pushilin.
Dariia Olifer, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian government representative at the peace talks and ex-president Leonid Kuchma, posted to her Facebook page that the document was signed by Kuchma, OSCE Special Representative in Ukraine Martin Sajdik and Russian envoy to the talks Azamat Kulmukhametov.
Olifer added that the agreement had not yet been signed by leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, who would sign them “through OSCE channels” by Thursday.
The head of the regional government in Catalonia has been indicted for unconstitutionally calling a referendum on independence from Spain last year. This comes just two days after his party and other secessionist forces won a regional election.
Recently, Artur Mas has promised his fellow Catalans that if pro-independence parties secured the majority in the regional parliament, independence from Spain would be a done deal. And so, on Sunday, the foundation of that promise was attained: absolute majority was secured, although, the parties only won 48 percent of the vote.
Despite the gains, Mas now has been summoned by Catalonia’s Supreme Court (TSJC) for pushing through a non-binding referendum last November, even after Spain’s Constitutional Court explicitly forbade him doing so.
He faces preliminary charges of disobedience, abuse of authority and usurping authority and will have to appear in court in October.
As it becomes more evident that Catalonia wants independence, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has once again repeated that he will not discuss “the unity of Spain.” With a general election coming up in December, he has ruled out any possibility of a referendum on the issue.
Meanwhile, Rajoy’s own People’s Party is getting historically low numbers in the Catalan election – the lowest in 20 years. Experts believe this to be directly related to the continued blocking of Barcelona’s independence referendum.
The Catalan Government said in a statement that it hasn’t “done anything illegal,” according to the Catalan News Agency. It further labeled the court’s decision to indict Mas as “a democratic anomaly” and “a political judgment.”
The left-wing leader Oriol Junqueras called Madrid’s tactics “the best example” of why Catalonia must secede. “As long as we belong to the Spanish State, normal things such as asking the citizens’ opinion will turn into lawsuits and summonses,” he said in a radio interview.
Various Catalan institutions and departments joined in the criticism against Madrid, although some in the region, such as the Conservatives, are diametrically opposed to Mas, believing that Catalonia can’t have a leader who is summoned for disobedience.