BREAKING: U.S. Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in East Europe – NY TIMES

 In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries, American and allied officials say.

The proposal, if approved, would represent the first time since the end of the Cold War that the United States has stationed heavy military equipment in the newer NATO member nations in Eastern Europe that had once been part of the Soviet sphere of influence

Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine as of 11 June 2015

The level of violence in and around Donetsk airport (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 12km north-west of Donetsk) remained high.  From the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at the Donetsk central railway station (“DPR”-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), over a five hour period, the SMM heard over 250 bursts of small arms and light weapons fire, heavy machinegun, automatic grenade launchers and anti-aircraft guns as well as 134 explosions, both incoming and outgoing at one to eight kilometres north, north-west, north-east and west of its location.

Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis Won’t Get U.S. Money

The House of Representatives has unanimously approved an amendment to the U.S. military budget, proposed by Conyers and Florida Republican Ted Yoho, banning support and training for “the Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary militia ‘Azov Battalion.'” Azov was set up in May 2014 to fight pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine

Federalism in Ukraine: How It Would Best Work

Though written in April 2014, this analysis by Pietro Shakarian remains relevant:

Several commentators and analysts have recently proposed the idea of a federal Ukrainian state as a means of balancing power between the more Ukrainophone West and Russophone Southeast. Such an idea could potentially work, but only if implemented on an oblast-by-oblast level, not on a broad regional level. The reason for this is that each individual oblast within Ukraine has its own unique nuances and circumstances which must be seriously considered.

Federative Democracy Poroshenko-Saakashvili Style

Now the West is engaged in its great ‘war of values with Russia’ and defending ‘Ukrainian democracy.’ But in Ukraine governors are appointed by the president and there are no senators or an upper house – another common feature of federalism. This past week saw Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appointed a new governor for Ukraine’s southern region of Odessa.

‘SEPARATE REGIONS WITH SPECIAL STATUS’

The Ukrainian government does not appear to be interested in negotiating. Despite the fact that Minsk-2 specifically states that the required constitutional reforms should include ‘special status’ for Donetsk and Lugansk, the government is insisting that they will consist only of a general decentralization of powers to all Ukrainian regions and will not involve any such ‘special status’ for Donbass.  Ukraine’s Western allies should press it to reconsider.

U.S. House Passes 3 Amendments By Rep. Conyers To Defense Spending Bill To Protect Civilians From Dangers Of Arming and Training Foreign Forces

WASHINGTON— Late yesterday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives considered H.R. 2685, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2015.”  During consideration of the legislation, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Congressman Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) offered bipartisan amendments to block the training of the Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary militia “Azov Battalion,” and to prevent the transfer of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles—otherwise known as Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems (MANPADS)—to Iraq or Ukraine.

Are Ukraine and the U.S. allies or not?

At this critical moment for the future of Ukrainian, European and U.S. interests in the region, the U.S.-Ukraine strategic partnership lacks both strategy and partnership. This much is clear after meetings with Ukraine’s political leaders, journalists, academics, civil-society activists and volunteers active in the conflict zone during our recent trip across the beleaguered nation. Ukraine’s appeals for U.S. support have only grown louder and more desperate as renewed fighting flared around Donetsk in the past week.

Putin Is No James Bond Villain

Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars on foreign-language propaganda, all that President Vladimir Putin has achieved outside Russia is the status of a Bond movie villain. He may enjoy it, especially since there’s no 007 in sight to tackle him, but his variety of pop stardom is growing into a problem for his country: He is seen as a bigger threat to the West than his actions warrant.

Pope Francis Must Pressure Putin On Ukraine Crisis, Says US Official Urging Pontiff To Side With West Against Russia

A top American diplomat has urged Pope Francis to take a hard line with Russian President Vladimir Putin in regards to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict when the two meet Wednesday, according tthe Guardian. Francis, who has often said he opposes war, has not joined the West in condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine since the country annexed Crimea in March 2014, sparking continued unrest in the region.

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