Russian Investigators Say Ukrainian Military Involved in Crimes Against Civilians

ST. PETERSBURG, July 24 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Investigative Committee knows the names of at least 40 Ukrainian military personnel who have committed crimes against civilians in their country, committee head Alexander Bastrykin said Thursday.

“We know the names of more than 40 military middle-ranked personnel and the commanders of brigades, battalions, units, artillery units and pilots who have fired at civilian neighborhoods. We’ll get each of them,” Bastrykin said.

In connection with the events in the southeast of Ukraine, the Russian Investigative Committee opened a criminal case on the use of prohibited means and methods of warfare. The defendants in the case are Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and Dnipropetrovsk Region Governor Igor Kolomoisky, sponsor of a number of Ukrainian security groups.

In turn, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry opened a criminal case against Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeev. According to the Ukrainian police, these people helped to formed and send the "illegal armed groups," what Kiev calls independence supporters, to southeast Ukraine.

Kiev authorities launched a special military operation in the east of Ukraine in mid-April in a crackdown on the independence movement. Hundreds of people, including civilians have died in Luhansk and Donetsk regions over the past few months.

Moscow has described the ongoing military action as a punitive operation and has repeatedly called on Kiev to put an immediate end to the bloodshed.

US Claims of Flight MH17 Downing by Militia Remain Unfounded – Russia’s Defense Ministry

MOSCOW, July 24 (RIA Novosti) – The United States has not yet provided any documented evidence to prove that the rocket that brought down the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was launched from militia-controlled territory, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said Thursday.

"It was stated that the data of the US technical intelligence and satellite photography confirmed the launch of the rocket from the militia-controlled territory. The question is: where is this data? Why hasn’t it been made available to the public?” Antonov said in an interview to the Rossiya-24 television channel.

Antonov suggested that these facts are "still, so to speak, being manufactured."

The United States presented Tuesday the information it had to support its claims that the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which killed 298 people last week, was a result of a shooting down by independence supporters in the region.

US officials said they were not sure who was behind the crash, saying independence supporters could have downed the airliner "by mistake." The officials said they relied in their conclusions partly on social media information and video recordings distributed by Ukrainian authorities.

Ukrainian government and militia have been trading blame for the alleged downing of the airliner ever since reports suggested foul play, with independence supporters saying they lacked the required technology to shoot a moving target at the given altitude.


Further Sanctions Against Russia Unjustified, Threaten Global Economic Stability - Germany

MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti) - Further sanctions against Moscow, targeting entire sectors of the Russian economy, are not a justified tool for solving a political conflict and threaten the global economic stability, German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) chief Martin Wansleben said in an interview with German Passau Neue Presse on Wednesday.

“Further sanctions targeting entire sectors of the economy are not a justified tool to solve the political conflict,” Wansleben said. “Russia is among the Germanys top-10 trade partners. 300,000 jobs in Germany depend on the export of German goods to Russia. Moreover, Russia is Germany’s major supplier of oil and gas, accounting for 35 percent of the deliveries. The previously imposed sanctions have already negatively affected economic relations between Russia and Germany,” Wansleben told Passau Neue Presse.

He also stressed that the German economy has been suffering losses since the start of the political crisis in Ukraine, and the global economy has become far less stable.

“New investments in Russia and the prospectus projects have been postponed. In 2014 we expect losses of 4 billion euro ($5.4 billion) due to lower exports to Russia, and over 1.5 billion euro ($2 billion) to Ukraine,” Wansleben said.

On July 24, the European Union will present new sanctions against Moscow targeting Russia’s financial and defense sectors.

“We’ve asked the Commission and External Action Service to prepare proposals for action including an access to capital markets, defense, dual-use goods and sensitive technologies, including in the energy sector. These proposals will be presented on Thursday,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Tuesday.

Last week, the US Treasury introduced the so-called Sectoral Sanctions Identification List that affects companies and institutions in defense, energy and banking sectors of the Russian economy. The move followed the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine.

Earlier this year, the United States and the European Union imposed targeted sanctions against a number of Russian officials and companies as a response to Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

Russia's Foreign Ministry has repeatedly called the language of sanctions counterproductive and said these measures would have a boomerang effect on European economies.

Ukraine Denies Entry to Russian Journalist

MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti) - Ukrainian authorities have once again prevented Russian journalists from entering the country, denying entry on Wednesday to Rossiya Segodnya reporter Alexei Andreyev.

The document provided by Ukraine’s border service reads that the reason for his denial is a “lack of proof of the objective of the planned stay in the country and insufficient funds.” Andreyev’s counterarguments that he had sufficient funds, a booking at a hotel in Kharkiv, a journalist’s badge and an official paper detailing his assignment were not taken into account.

The Ukrainian government has prevented Russian journalists from working in the country multiple times. Another Rossiya Segodnya reporter was denied entry on April 8. The same day, Ukrainian border guards forced another reporter from the same news agency to get off the train between Moscow and Luhansk.

A VGTRK media holding reporter Yevgeny Rozhkov was also denied entry on July 14. According to the journalist, he told border guards that he was travelling to Ukraine to replace his colleague. Rozhkov had all the necessary documents, but was denied entry anyway.

Earlier, on March 7, a news crew from TVC channel was deported from Donetsk Airport, while a group of reporters from NTV channel was denied entry.

Over 200,000 Flee Ukraine For Russia – Russian Ombudsman

MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti) - More than 200,000 refugees from southeastern Ukraine are in Russia, 28,700 of whom are children, Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said at a press conference held at Rossiya Segodnya on Wednesday.

“According to our statistics, over 201,000 refugees from southeast Ukraine are currently on Russian territory; 28,700 of them are children,” Astakhov said, referring to the figures received from the Russian regions accommodating the refugees.

He added that according to the estimates of Russia’s Federal Migration Service (FMS), more than 1.9 million Ukrainians have arrived in Russia since the start of military activities in Ukraine.

Astakhov also urged Ukrainian authorities to relocate orphans from combat areas, adding that 61 orphanages in the warzone currently house 3,648 orphans.

“This is a very pressing issue, since they [orphans] are the least protected children. These are the children who need an urgent evacuation. There is no difference for us where they are relocated, as long as they are moved far from the war,” Astakhov said, adding that Russia is ready to accommodate the kids and that 563 orphans have been moved to Russia.

Russia has been setting up temporary accommodation facilities on its territory since the beginning of summer, when the flow of Ukrainian refugees to Russia, in particular to the bordering Rostov Region, hiked as the conflict in eastern Ukraine spiraled out of control. The number of temporary accommodation facilities has exceeded 400 shelters, housing 27,000 people.

Russian families, who provide their flats, houses and offer all the necessary help to Ukrainians fleeing violence, are also accommodating refugees.

Russians are also collecting humanitarian aid for Ukrainian refugees. Some 1,300 tons of humanitarian aid have already been delivered to the refugees.

At same time, the crisis in Ukraine has displaced 50,435 people who were forced to leave their homes due to the combat activities, according to the Ukrainian State Emergency Service.

“The total number of Ukrainian citizens displaced form the area of conducting the anti-terrorist operation to other regions, amounts to 50,435 people, including 18,218 children, 5,874 disabled and elderly persons,” the agency’s statement said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Human Rights Watch criticized Ukrainian authorities for not doing enough to tackle the issue of internally displaced people in the country, with HRW director for Europe and Central Asia, Hugh Williamson, urging Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to step up efforts and provide essential aid to those in need.

Since June, thousands of Ukrainian refugees have been forced to leave their native country and seek shelter in neighboring Russia due to ongoing battles between pro-Kiev forces and independence supporters in the country’s east.

Russia Sees Cooperation With Asia-Pacific Rim as Top Priority

MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti) — Russia deems cooperation with the Asia-Pacific Rim as its key priority, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday at a meeting with trade representatives.

«Cooperation with the Asia Pacific region is now our top priority. Now we need a breakthrough in this direction, allowing us to overcome many technologic and economic restrictions of sustainable growth," Medvedev said.

The prime minister added that countries of the Asia-Pacific region, along with Africa and Latin America are the most prospective in terms of investment cooperation and Russia might change the structure of its trade missions in accordance with the current trends.

“We intend to work in various markets and with everybody who is ready to cooperate on the basis of equality and mutual benefit,” Medvedev said.

According to Medvedev, Russia should set a substantial economic agenda for the BRICS states.

“Partnership within BRICS is a good example. Russia is taking over chairmanship in BRICS, as well as in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. We should definitely suggest a substantial economic agenda to our partners,” he said.

Russia will host the next BRICS summit in the city of Ufa on July 9-10, 2015 and a regular session of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Major International Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Over Missile Threats

MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s airline Transaero, together with major US, EU and Canadian airlines, reported that all flights to and from Tel-Aviv scheduled for Wednesday are cancelled due to the deteriorating security situation in Gaza.

On Tuesday, Russia’s Aeroflot and Transaero airlines decided to turn back Tel Aviv-bound flights after a rocket fell near the city’s Ben Gurion International Airport.

Several airlines from US, Europe and Canada have also suspended Israel flights amid the rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

The US authorities banned all national carriers from flights to Israel for at least 24 hours.

“US airlines are prohibited from flying to or from Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport for a period of up to 24 hours,” a notice published on the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website Tuesday said.

According to the FAA, the notice has followed “a rocket strike which landed approximately 1 mile from Ben Gurion International Airport on the morning of July 22.”

The European Air Safety Agency (EASA) issued a “strong recommendation” to avoid Tel Aviv’s airport until further notice.

Major European airlines that have canceled flights to and from Israel include Air France, KLM and Lufthansa, among others.

Air Canada has also announced the cancellation of Tuesday’s flight to Tel Aviv.

Israel started its Protective Edge operation on July 8 in response to increased Palestinian rocket attacks.

Ten days later, the Israeli Army launched a ground offensive aiming to destroy Hamas rocket launchers and underground tunnels that Palestinian militants use to strike Israel.

Military Specialists From Almost 100 Countries to Attend Russia’s Aviadarts

MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti) - More than 90 countries are sending their military attaches to Russia’s international air force crew competition Aviadarts, Lt. Gen. Viktor Bondarev, Russian Air Force commander-in-chief said Wednesday.

“The costs [of organizing the competition] are comparable to those of the military training,” Bondarev said, without providing the exact figure.

Aviadarts is a contest held since 2013 for professional military aircraft pilots to show off their skills in piloting, navigation and ground target engagement. This year the competition between more than 80 Air Force crews from Russia, Belarus and China are held on the airfields of Voronezh, Lipetsk and on the military testing site Pogonovo in Voronezhskaya Region.

Due to the growing popularity of Aviadarts, new military sites both in Russia and in participating countries may be engaged for the future competitions.

As for 2015, the list of participants already includes Kazakhstan. Armenia and Kyrgyzstan are expected to take part as well.