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Putin has no plans to congratulate Zelenskiy on inauguration – Kremlin

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked if Vladimir Putin will congratulate incoming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on his inauguration, said the Russian president had no such plans.

He said on Monday (May 20) that Putin would congratulate his newly-elected counterpart if Zelenskiy makes progress in settling the conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and mending relations with Russia.

“I repeat, President (Vladimir) Putin will congratulate President (Volodymyr) Zelenskiy on his first accomplishments in resolving the domestic conflict in Ukraine’s south-east and also on the first achievements in the normalisation of Russian-Ukrainian relations,” he said.

“Regarding where Crimea belongs to, as we have said multiple times, all in all there is no such question. And there cannot be one. It is a region within the Russian Federation. As to the south-east, Donbass, this is an interior problem in Ukraine that can be resolved and must be resolved by the president of Ukraine according to the strict plan of the Minsk agreements,” Peskov said

Zelenskiy, a comedian with no prior political experience, won the presidency by a landslide last month but his new party has no representation in parliament, making it expedient for him to call a snap poll while his popularity remains high.

As he took the oath in the Parliament on Monday (May 20), Zelenskiy said his first task was to achieve a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, where a five-year-old conflict with Russian-backed separatists has killed 13,000 people.

He added that dialogue with Russia could only happen after the return of Ukrainian territory and prisoners of war. (REUTERS)

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Netherlands set to prosecute suspects in MH17 airliner downing

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Courtesy : Reuters

REUTERS – International investigators are set on Wednesday (June 19) to launch criminal proceedings against suspects in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine nearly five years ago.

The Dutch-led international team tasked with assigning criminal responsibility for the plane’s destruction is to inform victims’ families of progress in their case on Wednesday morning, followed by a presentation to the media.

Dutch broadcasters RTL and NOS reported late last week that investigators would reveal the names of individual suspects. An Interfax Ukraine report on Tuesday quoted Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Olena Zerkal in an interview as saying prosecutors would name four “top” suspects.

MH17 was shot out of the sky on July 17, 2014 over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as it was flying from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board were killed.

Most victims were Dutch. A joint investigation team formed in 2014 by Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine found that the plane was shot down by a Russian missile.

The Russian government denies having lent any support to pro-Russia rebels fighting Ukrainian government troops and also denies any involvement in shooting down MH17.

Last year Russian President Vladimir Putin called MH17’s downing a “terrible tragedy” but said that Moscow was not to blame and that there are other explanations for what happened.

The governments of the Netherlands and Australia have said they hold Russia legally responsible.

Prosecutors have previously said the missile system that brought down the plane came from the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, based in the western Russian city of Kursk.

They said their next step would be to identify individual culprits and to attempt to put them on trial.

The Netherlands has said Russia has not cooperated with the investigation and Moscow is not expected to surrender suspects.

Dutch authorities have said suspects may be tried in absentia.

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New Ukraine President Zelenskiy says dissolving parliament

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019

Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks in Parliament after his inauguration on May 20. | Photo grabbed from Reuters footage

Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy took the oath of office on Monday (May 20) and immediately announced he was dissolving parliament and calling a snap election, aiming to win seats in a legislature still dominated by loyalists of his predecessor.

Zelenskiy, a comedian with no prior political experience, won the presidency by a landslide last month but his new party has no representation in parliament, making it expedient for him to call a snap poll while his popularity remains high.

He said his first task was to achieve a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, where a five-year-old conflict with Russian-backed separatists has killed 13,000 people. He added that dialogue with Russia could only happen after the return of Ukrainian territory and prisoners of war.

“I am certain that the first step in order to start this dialogue will be the return of all Ukrainian prisoners. Our next challenge is returning of lost territories. Frankly speaking, it seems to me that this expression is not appropriate because it is impossible to lose what belongs to us by law. Both Crimea and Donbass are the Ukrainian land where we lost not only territories, but we also lost the most important which is people,” he said.

“And today, we simply must – I am sure they can hear us – return their consciousness. We lost this consciousness. During these years, authorities did not do anything for them to feel that they are Ukrainians. They are not strangers, they are our (people). They are Ukrainians,” he added.

Working with parliament will be crucial to his ability to meet the expectations of his voters and also pass reforms needed to keep foreign aid flowing.

“In order to prevent more deaths of our heroes, I am ready to do everything. I am definitely not afraid of taking difficult decisions. I am ready to lose my popularity, my rating. And if needed, I am ready, without hesitations, to lose my position so that peace will finally come,” he said.

Zelenskiy called on lawmakers to use the two months until the snap election to pass a law that would strip them of immunity from prosecution and another law that bans officials from illegally enriching themselves. (REUTERS)

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Putin, Kim hold historic summit in Vladivostok

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, April 25th, 2019

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in the port City of Vladivostok for their first ever summit on April 25. | Photo grabbed from Reuters footage

North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met on Thursday (April 25) for their first ever summit.

The two shook hands on Russky island near the Port City of Vladivostok, in Russia’s far east.

Putin told Kim he expected his visit to Russia would help the two countries understand how to reach settlement over the Korean peninsula and develop bilateral ties.

“I am sure that your visit to Russia today will help to develop bilateral relations and will help us understand how to reach settlement over the Korean peninsula, what can we do together, what Russia can do to support the positive processes that are going on right now. We welcome your efforts to develop the inter-Korean dialogue and to normalize North Korean-U.S. relationship,” Putin said.

“I, too, hope that our meeting with you, Mr. President, will be useful for strengthening and development of traditional friendly relations between DPRK and Russia which run deep. And I would like to say that situation on Korean peninsula is attracting interest of the whole world society. I hope that our talks will become an important milestone to sum up the situation, exchange opinions about it and to negotiate resolution together,” Kim said.

Kim and Putin met for their unprecedented summit, where Kim is likely to seek support from the Russian leader as nuclear talks between North Korea and the United States are hanging in limbo.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Mr. Kim met in Hanoi, Vietnam earlier this year without reaching an agreement.

According to Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin believes the six-party talks on North Korea, which are currently stalled, are the only efficient way of addressing the issue of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.

Those talks, which began in 2003, involve the two Koreas as well as China, Japan, Russia and the U.S.

“There are no other efficient international mechanisms at the moment. That’s why it’s hardly possible to abstract away from this mechanism (the six-party talks). But on the other hand, you know that settlement efforts are being made by other countries as well. All efforts deserve support if they truly pursue the goal of denuclearizing society,” Peskov said.

The summit — the first ever between Putin and Kim — provides Pyongyang with an opportunity to seek support from a new quarter, Russia, and possible relief from the sanctions hurting its economy.

For the Kremlin, the summit is a chance to show it is a global diplomatic player, despite efforts by the united states and other western states to isolate it. REUTERS

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