On the eve of a historic conference in Washington, D.C., the founder and President of Save Ukraine Now, Dr. Gary Kellner, looked back on the chain of events leading up to this moment.
“My love for the Ukrainian people goes back decades,” he observed, and indeed, Dr Kellner spent more than 15 years in service to the nation. He developed the country’s first graduate program in leadership studies, benefiting more than 10,000 individuals through degree programs, conferences and seminars.
Dr. Kellner founded Save Ukraine Now more than a year ago as he watched the humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine turn into a full-fledged catastrophe. Now, he stands on the cusp of forging a powerful alliance among governmental, business and religious leaders to create a response with international implications.
The event, “Ukraine’s Ongoing Battle for Freedom – The Risk of Western Failure in Political, Economic and Humanitarian Assistance,” will be held at the Capitol Visitors Center on September 25, 2015. The attendees will include members of Congress, Ukraine cabinet members and other international figures. The leaders of the major religious confessions from Ukraine will also participate in a demonstration of the solidarity that has characterized their response to the crisis.
The Forum, Ukraine in Washington for short, also represents a culmination of sorts for the work of Save Ukraine Now and the ongoing momentum of its shipping container campaign, Ukraine Survival. Ukraine Survival has approached churches and civic associations to collect emergency supplies for the people of Ukraine, filling 40-foot shipping containers each, and then sending them to Ukraine. Save Ukraine Now has already launched campaigns in 17 cities in Michigan, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania. The first containers reached Kiev earlier this month.
Ukraine in Washington promises to be a pivotal event. Awareness of the situation in Ukraine is continuing to grow, thanks in part to Save Ukraine Now. And the organization continues to explore new ways to help the people of Ukraine.
Newsweek September 23. Ukraine's parliamentary vote on August 31 in favor of the law on amendments to the constitution on decentralization of powers showed the world that our country has many responsible politicians with a strategic and democratic vision.
However, the events outside Parliament that followed the vote were supremely painful – three servicemen fell victims to a failed attempt to destabilize the state. I feel truly disgusted that someone could use the deepest sorrows of my fellow citizens to their political advantage. And I will personally make sure that anyone involved directly in the events near the Ukrainian parliament as well as those who orchestrated their actions will be brought to justice.
For more than 20 years decentralization has been discussed in Ukraine, although no government before dared to take real action on this topic. Decentralization of powers in Ukraine is crucial for building a European state, full stop. I said it in my inauguration speech, I say it now. MORE
YahooNews September 19. MOSCOW (AP) — A cease-fire in eastern Ukraine has been holding for two weeks now, international observers said on Wednesday.
More than 8,000 people have been killed in fighting between Russia-backed separatist rebels and Ukrainian government forces. Two previous attempts to establish a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine failed before the two sides agreed to stop fighting starting Sept. 1.
Alexander Hug, deputy head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's monitoring mission in Ukraine, told a webcast news conference that both the rebels and the government troops have "largely observed" the cease-fire.
Hug warned, however, of military movement on the government-controlled side and about risks that fighting can resume "at any moment" while weapons remain close to the front-line. MORE
BBC.com September 16. The crisis in Ukraine has unleashed what some see as a new bout of information warfare between Russia and the West.
For nearly a decade, the Kremlin has been busily striving to win hearts and minds around the world mainly through its flagship international broadcaster RT (formerly known as Russia Today). These efforts have been increased since the onset of the Ukraine crisis in 2014.
Now Western media and governmental organisations are stepping up their efforts to reach out to Russian speakers. Just last week, the BBC said it was looking at plans for a new Russian satellite TV and video service.
Meanwhile the EU's European External Action Service (EEAS) is preparing to launch a special anti-propaganda task-force aimed at Russian speakers in the EU and other parts of Eastern Europe.
In January the European Parliament had urged the EU to develop "a communication strategy to counter the Russian propaganda campaign", in a strongly-worded resolution. MORE
KyivPost, September 12. Over lunch at the 12th annual Yalta European Strategy in Kyiv, two Russians at the conference sketched out the optimistic scenario for the West and Ukraine to capitalize on Russia’s current economic weakness.
Yevgenia Albats, editor-in-chief and CEO of The New Times in Moscow, said that the situation in Russia is going “from bad to worse” with the two-fold decline of the ruble in the last year because of lower oil prices, Russia's prime export.
“How are they going to sustain the budget? It’s not clear how the Russian state is going to pay for loyalty from population and security forces,” Albats said. If the decline in oil prices continues, “the Russian government will be lacking funds" and may be "too concerned about economic situation to look outside."
Of course, Albats said, the alternative is that Russia could continue seeing external enemies to blame – such as the West and Ukraine. At the same time, she said, there is even less political pluralism domestically in Russia than there was in the Soviet Union. MORE
Newsweek, September 10. Russia has begun building a major military base near its border with Ukraine, with room to house thousands of soldiers and large amounts of ammunition.
According to Reuters, workmen began erecting a fence in a field outside the village of Soloti which lies just 25 km (15 miles) from the Ukrainian border, in a similar location to where there had been increased military activity in April 2014—a squadron of Mi-24 attack helicopters were reportedly stationed in the area and army tents and trucks also spotted at the time. The field in which the current construction is underway lies close to a railway track which connects it to both Moscow and also Luhansk, the Ukrainian region which is under the control of pro-Russian rebels.
This new base is to be built on a 300-hectare site and will include nine barracks to house up to 3,500 soldiers, as well as warehouses to store weaponry, according to public documents published on a Russian governmental website. Other features include a large training area and an infirmary with 50 beds, as well as the more unusual additions of a barber shop, swimming pool, badminton court and ice rink. MORE
NYTimes, September 9. GENEVA — Nearly 8,000 people have died in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the United Nations said Tuesday in a report blaming the continuing influx of fighters and weaponry from Russia as the major obstacle to peace.
At least 7,962 people have been killed and 17,811 wounded in the fighting that erupted in April 2014, the United Nations human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said in a statement issued with the latest report by his agency’s monitors in Ukraine.
They said more than 400 civilians had been killed or wounded in artillery exchanges in the three most recent months covered by the report, more than double the number in the preceding three months, and cited daily violations of the cease-fire accord negotiated in February in Minsk, Belarus, between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian groups controlling large portions of eastern Ukraine. MORE
Newsweek September 5. A deceptive late-summer pause has settled over the Ukraine crisis. At least, in the coverage of it. For many weeks now, the war in the Donbas has slipped off the front page. Although leaders such as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko still search for an acceptable formula to end the war, it has continued in the southeast corner of Ukraine, with casualties mounting.
Who fired first is no longer a relevant question. The point is that the war stumbles along with no end in sight. The twin rebel “republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk have slowly frozen into a Russian stronghold, effectively detached from the rest of Ukraine. They are always available to be manipulated as a pro-Russian weapon in the East-West battle for Ukraine’s future.
Ukraine is no longer the top priority for American diplomats. They are understandably absorbed with selling the Iran nuclear deal to a reluctant Congress.
But, if Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is to be believed, there are a number of senior officials who have also been sending signals to Russia suggesting that President Obama wants to turn a page and improve his frosty relations with President Vladimir Putin. “We are already getting such signals from the Americans,” Lavrov said, “though for now not very clear.” MORE
Economist September 4. CRIMEA had not yet been seized by Russia when Mustafa Dzhemilev, leader of the Crimean Tatars, smelled a rat. On February 13th 2014 a Russian representative passed on a message: Vladimir Putin would like to talk to the 70-year-old former Soviet dissident. “What about?” he asked. “The future of Crimea,” said the emissary.
Mr Dzhemilev tensed. Why might Mr Putin want to discuss this part of Ukraine with him? It was a bad omen for his people, a Turkic group that moved to Crimea in the 13th century and see it as their native land.
From the mid-15th century the Crimean Tatars had their own state, a khanate, patronised by the Ottoman empire. Despite Mr Putin’s rhetoric, the peninsula became Mr Putin’s rhetoric, the peninsula became part of the Russian empire only in the late 18th century under Catherine the Great. Many Crimean Tatars moved to modern-day Turkey, but those who stayed were a welcome ornament of her realm. MORE
Mashable August 25. A Russian court on Tuesday found Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov guilty of plotting terrorist acts in Crimea.
Inside the regional courthouse in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, three judges took just 20 minutes to hand down the 20-year sentence, which the 39-year-old director will serve in a maximum security prison. Prosecutors had called for a 23-year sentence for Sentsov, a father of two who is known mostly for his 2011 film Gamer. His co-defendant, 26-year-old left-wing activist Alexander Kolchenko, was found guilty of involvement with a terrorist group and was sentenced to 10 years.
After the sentence was read, both men began singing the Ukrainian national anthem with defiant smiles across their faces. MORE
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