Russian FM says the West’s ‘Russiaphobia’ worse than during Cold War

Sergey Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Russian speaks to reporters January 19, 2018 at the United Nations in New York. (AFP)
Updated 21 January 2018
0

Russian FM says the West’s ‘Russiaphobia’ worse than during Cold War

MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday said the West’s “unprecedented Russiaphobia” was worse than at the height of the Cold War.
“This Russiaphobia is unprecedented. We never saw this during the Cold War,” Lavrov, fresh from a visit to New York on Thursday and Friday, said in an interview with the Russian daily Kommersant’s online edition.
“Back then there were some rules, some decorum... Now, all decorum has been cast aside,” he said.
Lavrov denounced what he called “efforts to punish Russia by any means possible,” calling sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union “absurd and baseless.”
Russia was slapped with sanctions in 2014 because of its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, with Kiev and the West accusing Moscow of backing rebels — allegations the Russian authorities deny.
Russia is also mired in a doping scandal which led to the exclusion of its athletes from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and the World Athletics Championships in London last year.
The International Olympics Committee has also suspended Russia from next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. “Clean” Russian athletes will be allowed to take part under the Olympic banner.


South Korea dismantles guard posts with dynamite, excavators

Updated 5 min 35 sec ago
0

South Korea dismantles guard posts with dynamite, excavators

  • Last week the two Koreas finished withdrawing troops and firearms from some of the guard posts along their border before dismantling them
  • The Koreas each agreed to dismantle or disarm 11 of their guard posts by the end of this month
CHEORWON, South Korea: South Korea exploded a front-line guard post Thursday, sending plumes of thick, black smoke into the sky above the border with North Korea, in the most dramatic scene to date in the rivals’ efforts to reduce animosities that sparked last year’s fears of war.
Last week the two Koreas finished withdrawing troops and firearms from some of the guard posts along their border before dismantling them. The steps are part of agreements signed in September during a meeting between their leaders in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital.
On Thursday, South Korea’s military invited a group of journalists to watch the destruction of a guard post with dynamite in the central border area of Cheorwon. The journalists were asked to stay hundreds of meters (yards) away as black smoke enveloped the hilly border area. They later watched soldiers and other workers bulldoze another guard post.
While most of the South Korean guard posts are being destroyed with construction equipment for environmental and safety reasons, dynamite was used for the first structure because of its location on a high hill where it was difficult employ excavators, the Defense Ministry said.
North Korea is demolishing its guard posts with explosives, according to South Korean media.
The guard posts are inside the 248-kilometer (155-mile)-long, 4-kilometer (2.5-mile)-wide border called the Demilitarized Zone. Unlike its name, it’s the world’s most heavily fortified border with an estimated 2 million land mines planted in and near the zone. The area has been the site of violence and bloodshed since the 1945 division of the Korean Peninsula, and civilians need special government approval to enter the zone.
The Koreas each agreed to dismantle or disarm 11 of their guard posts by the end of this month before jointly verifying the destruction next month. South Korea had about 60 posts inside the DMZ guarded by layers of barbed wire and manned by troops with machine guns. North Korea was estimated to have 160 such front-line posts.
Under the September agreements, the Koreas are also disarming the shared border village of Panmunjom and clearing mines from another DMZ area where they plan their first-ever joint searches for Korean War dead. They’ve also halted live-fire exercises along the border.
The deals are among a set of steps they have taken since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reached out to Seoul and Washington early this year with a vague commitment to nuclear disarmament. The fast-improving inter-Korean ties have raised worries among many in South Korea and the United States as global diplomacy on the North’s nuclear weapons program has produced little recent progress.