Author Archives: Nworld

Putin Threatens US with New Weapons if Missiles Deployed to Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow plans to target the United States with new hypersonic weapons if Washington deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe.

 

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapons that can both be used on the territories from which the direct threat to us originates, as well as the territories where the centers of decision-making are located,” Putin said during his 15th State of the Nation address before the federal assembly in Moscow on Wednesday.

Putin’s frequent references to the moribund 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty came amid record-low approval ratings for the fourth-term Russian leader.

 

Putin rejected U.S. assertions that Washington’s decision to withdraw from the landmark arms control pact was triggered by Russian violations of the agreement. He charged that the U.S. made false accusations against Russia to justify its decision to opt out of the deal.

 

“The U.S. directly and crudely violated the rules of the [INF] agreement; they have had launchers in Romania for a long time,” he said, repeating a well-worn Kremlin talking point that refers to a Romania-based U.S. anti-ballistic missile system capable of firing Tomahawk medium-range cruise missiles.

 

The United States has long said that system is designed to defend against “rogue” states such as Iran and provides no protection against Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

 

“Russia doesn’t intend to deploy new missiles in Europe first,” Putin added. “If the U.S. really is going to deploy missiles on the European continent, it will exacerbate the international situation and create a genuine danger for Russia, as there will be missiles with a 10-12 minute flight time to Moscow.”

 

He then seemed to taunt the U.S., calling on leaders to calculate the range and speed of Russia’s most advanced weapons.

 

“It’s their right to think how they want,” he said about U.S. leaders. “But can they count? I’m sure they can. Let them count the speed and the range of the weapons systems we are developing.

“The tests of Poseidon, an unmanned submarine with unlimited range, are going well… This hasn’t previously been said, but today I can say that by the spring of this year, the first atomic submarine will have been launched into the water.

 

“We are ready for disarmament talks, but we are no longer going to knock on a closed door,” he later said.

 

Russia began voicing skepticism about the value of a sustained bilateral arms treaty more than 10 years ago, when Kremlin officials asked the administration of then-President George W. Bush to consider expanding the treaty to bring rising nuclear powers such as China into compliance.

 

The majority of China’s nuclear arsenal is classified as intermediate range, meaning Chinese compliance with the INF would be tantamount to a wholesale forfeiture of its arsenal.

 

In December, when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced U.S. plans to withdraw from the INF, he gave Russia 60 days to come back into compliance with the terms of the nuclear weapons pact, leaving the door open to reverse the withdrawal process.

 

“Russia has not taken the necessary steps to return to compliance over the last 60 days,” Pompeo said in a prepared statement on February 1. “It remains in material breach of its obligations not to produce, possess, or flight-test a ground-launched, intermediate-range cruise missile system with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

 

“The United States has gone to tremendous lengths to preserve the INF Treaty, engaging with Russian officials more than 30 times in nearly six years to discuss Russia’s violation, including at the highest levels of government,” he added.

According to terms of the original INF agreement, Moscow and Washington are obligated to six months of negotiations over differences, which, if unresolved, constitute full withdrawal from the treaty.

 

If the U.S. puts additional weapons in European host countries, Putin warned that Russia would not only target those nations, but field new weapons that will target “U.S. decision-making centers.”

 

Some information for this report is from AP and Reuters.

 

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US Investor Detained in Russia May Be Denied Consular Access

Michael Calvey, an American businessman who was detained in Moscow five days ago on fraud charges, has not yet had consular access, according to the head of a US-Russian trade organization.

“I’ve spoken to [Calvey’s] colleagues, but not him, since the detention,” said U.S. national Alexis O. Rodzianko, president of the Moscow-based American Chamber of Commerce in Russia. Calvey is the founding partner of the Moscow-based private equity firm Baring Vostok.

Speaking with VOA Tuesday evening in a Moscow hotel, Rodzianko, who had just left discussions about Calvey’s detention with various Russian, American and European members of Moscow’s financial community, said: “I understand [Calvey] has met with his lawyers; I understand that he has not yet had consular contact — that’s as of lunchtime today.”

According to terms of the Vienna Convention, consular access must be provided within a 72-hour window from the time of arrest, meaning that a member of the U.S. government should have visited Calvey in detention by now.

A State Department spokesman declined to confirm Rodzianko’s assertion, citing privacy concerns, but seemed to indicate that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow is still seeking access to the businessman.

“We are aware that a U.S. citizen was arrested on February 14, 2019, in Russia,” said the spokesperson, who spoke on condition of not being identified. “The U.S. Embassy in Moscow is aware of the case and will be following it closely, and will provide all appropriate consular assistance. We have no higher priority than the protection of U.S. citizens abroad.”

Calvey is the second American citizen to face prosecution in Russia since Dec. 31, when Paul Whelan, a former Marine, was jailed on accusations of spying. Russia announced Whelan’s detention on Dec. 31, some 24 hours after his arrest.

Whelan’s family sharply criticized Russia’s handling of the announcement, noting that security officials divulged his arrest hours into the start of New Year’s Eve, which in Russia marks the start of a week-long national holiday. Delaying the announcement, they said, drastically decreased Whelan’s chances of securing access to legal and consular resources within the mandated 72-hour window.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. was finally permitted to meet with Whelan six days after his arrest.

Fraud charges

Calvey is facing fraud charges stemming from a protracted dispute with shareholders of Vostochny Bank, of which Baring Vostok owns 52.5 percent. He was detained along with five others, including three Baring Vostok employees, according to the Russian state news agency, RIA Novosty.

A coalition of lobby groups representing European businesses active in Russia has issued a joint statement expressing concerns about the arrest of Calvey and his colleagues.

“The detention of Baring Vostok’s top management has sent shock waves through the country’s business community and can potentially seriously damage the investment climate and attractiveness of Russia for foreign direct investments,” it said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to make a passing reference to Calvey’s case during his annual State of the Nation address to the federal assembly on Wednesday.

“Good-faith business shouldn’t feel threatened by the law or constantly feel the risk of criminal or even administrative punishment,” Putin said.

If convicted, Calvey faces up to 10 years in a Moscow prison.

Pete Cobus is VOA’s acting Moscow correspondent.

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У НАТО назвали неприйнятними погрози Путіна націлити ракети на США

Заяви президента Росії з погрозами на адресу союзників НАТО є неприйнятними, заявляють у Північноатлантичному альянсі.

«Ми закликаємо Росію зосередитися на поверненні до дотримання Договору про ліквідацію ракет середньої і меншої дальності (ДРСМД)», – заявив заступник речника НАТО Пірс Казале.

Він додав, що НАТО не хоче нової гонки озброєнь і не має наміру розгортати в Європі нову ядерну зброю.

20 лютого російський президент Володимир Путін, виступаючи з посланням до Федеральних зборів (верхньої палати парламенту Росії), заявив, що у відповідь на вихід Сполучених Штатів з договору про ракети середньої і меншої дальності Росія розгорне ракетні системи, які будуть націлені не тільки на озброєння, але і на центри ухвалення рішень на території США та їхніх союзників.

Сполучені Штати Америки 1 лютого остаточно оголосили про свій вихід із важливого договору про обмеження на ракети з Росією через його порушення з боку Москви, яке там заперечують.

2 лютого про те, що Росія припиняє участь у Договорі про ліквідацію ракет середнього та меншого радіусу дії, повідомив президент Росії Володимир Путін.

Договір РСМД, укладений 1987 року, заборонив США і тодішньому СРСР, наступником якого стала Росія, мати, виробляти і ставити на бойове чергування цілий клас ракет досяжністю від 500 до 5 тисяч кілометрів. США вперше звинуватили Росію в його порушенні ще 2014 року.

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«Свідки Єгови» заявляють про тортури з боку силовиків Росії

Релігійна організація «Свідки Єгови» заявляє про тортури, яких зазнають її члени, затримані російськими силовиками в північному місті Сургут. Щонайменше троє єговістів залишаються в СІЗО.

«Ударів струму, задушення до стану непритомності, побиттів зазнали щонайменше сім мирних свідків Єгови… Тортурами віруючих змушували відповідати на питання: «Де проходять збори свідків Єгови? Хто приходить на зібрання? Як прізвища старійшин? Який пароль у тебе на телефоні?» – ідеться в повідомленні на сайті релігійної організації.

Всього кримінальні справи порушені проти 19 членів організації «Свідки Єгови» в Сургуті. Серед них є і жінки.

У Слідчому комітеті Росії заперечують тортури до затриманих членів релігійної організації. Про це заявив речник комітету в Ханти-Мансійському регіоні Олег Менших.

20 квітня 2017 року Верховний суд Росії визнав Управлінський центр «Свідків Єгови» екстремістською організацією. Ще в серпні 2018 року правозахисна організація «Меморіал» визнала політв’язнями 29 прихильників «Свідків Єгови», яких звинувачують у тероризмі, і закликала негайно їх звільнити.

Уряди в Росії та деяких інших країнах із підозрою ставляться до діяльності «Свідків Єгови» через їхню позицію щодо військової служби, голосування та влади в цілому. Релігійна організація, яка має головний офіс у Нью-Йорку, стверджує, що в Росії нараховується близько 170 тисяч її прихильників.

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Juncker: Hungary’s Ruling Party Doesn’t Belong in Europe’s Center-right

The party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban should leave the mainstream European center-right grouping, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, comparing Orban to French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

The unusually sharp comments, made at a public meeting in Stuttgart, Germany, came after the Hungarian government unveiled a new poster campaign accusing Juncker and philanthropist George Soros of wanting to flood Hungary with migrants.

“Against lies there’s not much you can do,” Juncker replied, adding that Manfred Weber, the European Peoples Party’s lead candidate for the upcoming European elections, would certainly be asking himself “if I need this voice” in the EPP.

Calls have been growing for Orban’s nationalist Fidesz party to be expelled from the EPP, which groups Christian Democratic and center-right parties in the European Parliament, because of Fidesz’s stridently anti-immigration campaigns.

Fidesz’s domestic strength, however, means it has a large delegation in the European legislature, and its removal from the EPP umbrella could erode the center-right’s current dominance of the Strasbourg parliament.

Juncker, previously the longtime center-right prime minister of Luxembourg, said he had called for Fidesz’s exclusion from the EPP.

“They didn’t vote for me in the European Parliament,” he said. “The far right didn’t either. I remember Ms. Le Pen, she said ‘I’m not voting for you.’ I said: ‘I don’t want your vote.’ There are certain votes you just don’t want.”

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Лавина в Швейцарії: з-під снігу дістали чотирьох поранених

Чотирьох людей дістали з-під снігового завалу на швейцарському гірськолижному курорті Кран-Монтана, де 19 лютого зійшла лавина.

За даними влади, всі врятовані мають травми, стан одного – тяжкий. Пошуки тривають. Про загиблих наразі не повідомляли.

До пошукової операції залучені вісім гелікоптерів, 12 собак і понад 240 поліцейських, рятувальників і військових.

Раніше місцеві ЗМІ повідомляли, що під завалом перебуває близько 10 людей.

У найближчі вихідні гірськолижний курорт Кран-Монтана має приймати жіночі гонки Кубка світу.

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Берні Сандерс заявив про намір знову брати участь у президентських перегонах у США

У США сенатор від штату Вермонт Берні Сандерс заявив про намір брати участь в боротьбі за посаду президента на виборах 2020 року. У 2016 році Сандерс брав участь у президентській кампанії від Демократичної партії. Однак поступився тоді Гілларі Клінтон, яка програла вибори республіканцеві Дональду Трампу.

В інтерв’ю радіостанції Вермонта 77-річний Сандерс, зокрема, сказав, що в першу чергу хоче змінити на посаді Трампа. Крім того, за словами Сандерса, він хоче реалізувати ідеї, які пропонував під час виборів у 2016 році.

Пріоритетами у своїй кампанії Сандерс серед іншого назвав запровадження в країні загальнодоступної системи охорони здоров’я, підвищення мінімальної оплати праці, а також реформу імміграційної політики.

Сандерс офіційно не член Демократичної партії і називає себе незалежним кандидатом. Видання Politico відзначає, що технічно це допустимо, але, на думку преси, виглядає вельми незвично.

Президентські вибори в США заплановані на 3 листопада 2020 року.

Очікується, що в праймеріз від республіканців братимуть участь чинний президент Дональд Трамп, а також губернатор Массачусетса Вільям Велд. З боку демократів у праймеріз, зокрема, можуть взяти участь сенатор від Нью-Джерсі Корі Букер, який заявив про намір брати участь у виборах; представник Гаваїв в Конгресі Тулсі Габбард, а також сенатори від Каліфорнії Камала Гарріс і від Массачусетсу Елізабет Воррен.

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Thousands Decry Anti-Semitism in France After Spike in Attacks

Thousands of people rallied across France after a surge of anti-Semitic attacks in recent weeks that culminated on Tuesday with vandals daubing swastikas and anti-Jewish slogans on dozens of graves in a Jewish cemetery.

Political leaders from all parties, including former Presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, gathered in Paris filling the Place de la Republique, a symbol of the nation, to decry anti-Semitic acts with one common slogan: “Enough!” People also lined the streets of cities from Lille in the north to Toulouse and Marseille in the south.

President Emmanuel Macron paid respects at one of the 96 desecrated graves in the village of Quatzenheim, near the eastern city of Strasbourg.

“Whoever did this is not worthy of the French republic and will be punished… We’ll take action, we’ll apply the law and we’ll punish them,” he said, walking through a gate scarred with a swastika as he entered the graveyard.

Macron later visited the national Holocaust memorial in Paris with the heads of the Senate and National Assembly.

France is home to the biggest Jewish community in Europe – around 550,000 – a population that has grown by about half since World War II, but anti-Semitic attacks remain common.

Government statistics released last week showed there were more than 500 anti-Semitic attacks in the country last year, a 74 percent increase from 2017.

“Some people are provoking the authority of the state. It needs to be dealt with now and extremely firmly,” Sarkozy told reporters. “It’s a real question of authority. Violence is spreading and it needs to stop now.”

Among incidents in recent days, “yellow vest” protesters were filmed hurling abuse on Saturday at Alain Finkielkraut, a well-known Jewish writer and son of a Holocaust survivor.

Artwork on two Paris post boxes showing the image of Simone Veil, a Holocaust survivor and former magistrate, was defaced with swastikas, while a bagel shop was sprayed with the word “Juden”, German for Jews, in yellow letters. A tree in a Paris suburb in memory of Ilan Halimi, a young Jewish man kidnapped, tortured and murdered in 2006, was cut in two.

The series of attacks has alarmed politicians and prompted calls for action against what some commentators describe as a new form of anti-Semitism among the far-left and Islamist preachers.

“I call on all French and European leaders to take a strong stand against anti-Semitism,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video message recorded in Hebrew. “It is an epidemic that endangers everyone, not just us.”

A rabbi and three children were killed at a Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012 by an Islamist gunman, and in 2015 four Jews at a kosher supermarket in Paris were among 17 people killed by Islamist militants.

 

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У США помер моряк з фотографії «Поцілунок на Таймс-Сквер»

У США помер Джордж Мендонса, герой фотознімку «Поцілунок на Таймс-Сквер», що став одним із символів закінчення Другої світової війни. Як повідомляє CBS, Мендонса помер від інсульту, не доживши двох днів до свого 96-річчя.

Знімок «Поцілунок на Таймс-Сквер» був зроблений 14 серпня 1945 року, після того як президент США Гаррі Трумен оголосив про майбутню капітуляції Японії. На фотографії моряк Мендоса цілує асистентку стоматолога Грету Циммер Фрідман, яка пізніше стала його дружиною. Подружжя прожило разом 70 років. Фрідман померла в 2016 році у віці 92 років.

Майже півстоліття більше 30 американців претендували на звання героїв знімка. Остаточно особистості Фрідман і Мендонса підтвердили кілька років тому за допомогою технології розпізнавання осіб.

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Pressure Grows on Europe to Back Venezuelan Opposition Leader

Pressure is growing on the European Union to formally back Venezuela’s opposition, after three EU lawmakers were refused entry into the country Sunday.

The Venezuelan government accused them of having “conspiratorial aims,” and forced them back on a plane to Madrid. The three had been invited by Venezuelan members of parliament to visit the country.

“[It was] very unpleasant and a pure demonstration that Venezuela is a country held hostage by a power that is almost like North Korea,” Esteban Gonzalez Pons, a senior member of the European Parliament, told reporters on his arrival in Madrid Monday.

The diplomatic snub has triggered calls for Brussels to take a stronger stand against the government of disputed President Nicholas Maduro. The United States and many allies have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president, after accusations of vote rigging in last year’s election.

The EU lawmakers have demanded that the bloc now abandon the International Contact Group or ICG, an EU initiative among European states and four Latin American countries, that is seeking a political way forward in Venezuela. The group met in the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo, earlier this month.

Europe’s foreign policy chief rejected pulling out of the ICG Monday.

“On the contrary, all member states have reaffirmed how crucial it is to have this instrument, which is currently probably the only one that we can use, to be at the same time in contact with relevant stakeholders and clear on the objective, which is a democratic, peaceful, and early election outcome for the crisis,” Federica Mogherini said in a press conference.

At the Munich Security Conference Saturday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the European Union must recognize the American-backed interim president.

The Netherlands was among the EU member states that followed Washington’s lead. Foreign Minister Stef Blok spoke to VOA following Pence’s speech.

“Twenty-two European countries did recognize Guaido as the interim president. And of course I would have preferred to see the European Union united,” Blok said.

The EU, however, is divided. Spain, which retains the closest links to its former colony, rejected Washington’s demands.

“Mr. Pence can’t ask us to not accept the constitutional law of Venezuela,” Spain’s foreign minister, Josep Borrell, said at the Munich conference.

Borrell’s French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drain, is insisting on new elections.

“The only way out of the political crisis in Venezuela is a presidential election with democratic guarantees,” Le Drian said.

The Dutch government has agreed that its overseas territory of Curacao, an island off Venezuela, can be used as an aid hub.

“In order to get the aid toward Venezuela, we will need the consent of the Venezuelan authorities,” Blok told VOA.

As the diplomatic debate intensifies over how to end Venezuela’s political crisis, hundreds of tons of foreign aid remain stranded on the country’s borders — and the Venezuelan people continue to suffer.

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