Putin has no plans to congratulate Zelenskiy on inauguration – Kremlin

Robie de Guzman   •   May 20, 2019   •   1395

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)

Kremlin confirms alleged U.S. spy worked in president’s office

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that a former Russian official identified in media reports as a CIA asset inside Russia had worked in Russia’s presidential administration, but did not have direct access to President Vladimir Putin.

U.S. media reported on Monday that U.S. intelligence carried out an operation in 2017 to extract a high-level Russian official and CIA asset.

Russian daily newspaper Kommersant said on Tuesday the official may have been a man called Oleg Smolenkov. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Smolenkov had worked in the Russian presidential administration but had been fired in 2016/17.

He declined to say whether he was an agent or not, but said that U.S. media reports read like “pulp fiction.” (Reuters)

(Production: Tom Balmforth, Dmitry Turlyun)

Inmates in rebel-held Ukraine return to school behind bars

UNTV News   •   September 3, 2019

The new school year started for 40 inmates from the Kirovskaya prison colony as they gathered on Monday (September 2) for the first school day assembly and returned to the classroom in the rebel-held city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

The prisoners who have not completed a school year attended a history lesson in the new prison school. They used workbooks printed by the Ministry of Education of Self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Dmitry Pentugov, one of the inmates at the Kirovskaya prison colony, said his favourite subject was chemistry and that he hoped to pursue a future in this field.

School director Mikhail Petrischev said inmates would be attending classes at three levels – the ninth, tenth and eleventh grades – and would study the same subjects as schoolers in the Donetsk region except industrial arts, physical education and preliminary military training.

Rebellions broke out against Ukrainian government rule and set up two states in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in 2014 shortly after a pro-Russian president was toppled in Kiev in a popular revolt.

Moscow provided military help for the separatists in the east, according to evidence gathered by Reuters, though Russian officials have denied providing material support. (REUTERS)

(Production: Anastasia Adasheva, Alexander Ermochenko)

G7 leaders in a show of unity in a summit that exposes rifts

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2019

G7 leaders French President Emmanuel Macron, U.S. President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Acting Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gather for a photo alongside other world leaders and invited guests. (Image grabbed from Reuters footage)

G7 leaders joined in a family photo on Sunday (August 25) at the French resort hosting the summit which has been troubled by differences between U.S. President Donald Trump and Western allies over a raft of issues.

Trump, a turbulent presence at last year’s G7 gathering, insisted on Sunday that he was getting along well with other leaders of a group that also includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan.

But rifts emerged on issues from his intensifying trade war with China to the nuclear ambitions of both Iran and North Korea, and the question of whether Russian President Vladimir Putin should be readmitted to the group.

While the transatlantic rift is the most stark, there are also deep divisions within the European camp, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson making his G7 debut at a time when he is struggling to persuade EU capitals to renegotiate Britain’s exit from the bloc, which Johnson has said will happen on October 31 come what may.

The G7 leaders were joined in the family photo by several African leaders as well as leaders from India, Australia, Chile and Spain, whom Macron invited to the Sunday dinner to broaden the scope of debate.

In the front row, Trump, Macron stood alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, while Johnson stood at the end of the row. (Reuters)

(Production: Roberto Esparza, Lucy Marks)

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